Wednesday, November 19, 2014

6 Thanksgiving Wines You Probably Won’t Be Able to Find But Would Go Great with Your Meal


Thanksgiving Wines to Grace Your Table From Around the World

Why all the fuss about Thanksgiving wines every year? Well, I think it all comes down to fear and perfection. People have wildly high expectations and this leads to fear that their choice of wine will not be perfect. 

Here is my annual Thanksgiving advice:  Relax!

Perfect is not all it’s cracked up to be. Choose wines you like and let the day unfold. Odds are, unless your family and guests are extremely wine centric, no one will be talking about the wine served. Just have plenty of it, whatever it is, and everything will be just fine.

Wine is Travel in a Bottle -- so this Thanksgiving I offer you six selections from a few of the places, near and far, I visited this year. 

1. Canals & Munné Brut Nature Grand Reserva Cava-- Spain
Aged for 48 months, this blend of Macabeu, Chardonnay, and Parellada is dry and elegant, well suited to appetizers such as crab cakes or blini with caviar or smoked salmon.

2. Törley Hungaria Extra Dry Rosé -- Hungary*
Turkey or Tofurkey? Törley is the answer. This wine is Thanksgiving in a bottle! Dry and balanced with a hit of tart cranberry and pomegranate flavor that floats across the palate in a parade of tiny bubbles. 

3. Pentâge Pinot Gris 2012-- Canada
A light, bright, delight -- I had this Pinot Gris for the first time at a restaurant outside of Vancouver and could not stop craving it. I finally had to go back to B.C in person to get some, and I’m glad I did. It’s luscious lychee, peachy flavors, and zesty acidity could pair well with anything from oysters to sweet potatoes.  

4. Liquidity Viognier 2013 -- Canada
This is one of the most delicious Viogniers I’ve ever had--completely captivating with a fabulous apricot and floral bouquet, followed by peaches and cream on the palate with citrus and green apple notes. This would pair nicely with a mushroom risotto.

5. Piquentum Terre Refosk 2011-- Croatia*
Dark and griping with a flourish of full flavor, this would be excellent with duck or sausage stuffing, also good to drink alone outside as you count your blessings and hope no fights break out before dessert.

6. Tinhorn Creek Cab Franc 2011 -- Canada*
This Cab Franc is one of my favorites-- bold, balanced and enough body for any dish your casserole crazy Aunt Emma brings, as well as a great accompaniment to turkey or squab and other birds you might have flying around the house.

Okay, so you probably won’t be able to source most of these in the states, except for the * starred selections, which I purchased through Blue Danube Wine at www.bluedanbuewine.com, and the Tinhorn Creek can be ordered in the US via http:/usshop.tinhorn.com

NOTE: I tasted all the above (except for the Törley) in their country of origin and encourage you to do the same. I also bought all the wines with my own wampum, and despite rumors to the contrary... I DO NOT work for Blue Danube Wine, I just really like and appreciate their offerings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Adernats Cava Cathedral - Come for the Wine Stay for the Hazelnuts

As I mentioned previously, here in this post, I was part of a hosted team that toured the Cava region of Spain last month for the 50 Great Cava’s Tour in the Penedès.

Above right, Lara and Kathy “lean in” for more information
Our first stop was at Adernats Vinícola de Nulles where we discovered the César Martinell designed wine cathedral--an homage to modernism with a hat tip to Antoni Gaudí. This is the place to taste Cava and ponder the elements of architecture and structure in wine.

We walked the grounds around the vineyards and examined the rocky clay and limestone soil. The vineyards have little change in temperature from day to night, but a sea breeze gives respite from the heat, and allows for good acid and sugars to develop.

Adernats is part of a co-op that was formed after the phylloxera devastation in the region. Adernats also produces other products within the co-op including a superb olive oil, honey, fruit jams and hazelnuts.

Confession: I hate hazelnuts. I think Nutella tastes like poison. The smell of hazelnut flavored coffee makes me recoil. In short; I've never met a hazelnut I liked. But my abhorrence of hazelnuts came to an end at Adernats. Cava and hazelnuts might just be the perfect pairing.

Maybe I've just never had a good hazelnut before or all the previous ones were rancid, but the nuts at Adernats were a revelation. The slightly oily and full rich flavor of the toasted hazelnut was a sublime pairing with the crisp dry Cava. Perhaps the winery should be called Adernuts!


Cavas tasted:
Reserva Brut Nature Cava DO
Reserva Brut Cava DO
Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava DO (bottled fermented 40 months)
All were a blend of Macabeo, Xarel•lo and Parellada grapes.  

We also tasted one of the 50 Great Cavas -- The XC Gran Reserva Cava DO crafted from 100% Xarel•lo grapes and barrel fermented for five months, followed by 45 months of secondary fermentation in the bottle. 


This was my favorite Cava of them all. It had a lightness of being, yeasty with notes of spiced pears and apples and grounded with wonderful minerality. 

Our host looks a bit like Sergio Garcia here, no?  

As we popped nuts, sipped Cava and contemplated the architecture, I chatted with Ms. Lara Dunston of Grantourismo and noticed her pockets were stuffed with nuts. How they got there is anybody's guess. I suppose good hazelnuts are hard to come by in Cambodia.  

After the Cava tasting we were led up to the top of the winery for an outstanding dinner in the rafters above the tanks.

Watermelon anchovy gazpacho? Yes, Please! Watermelon and anchovy may sound weird but I loved it. I love anchovies with everything so this was a special treat, there was also some olive oil and tomato in the gazpacho to round out the flavors.


During the meal we donned blindfolds which added to the heightened sensory experience and gave the evening a slightly naughty Eyes Wide Shut tinge. While blindfolded we were given several food items on a wooden skewer including a cherry tomato, watermelon, and pineapple and asked to identify what they were. I must say trying to eat anything off a skewer while blindfolded is an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately the blindfold served as protection from getting poked in the eye.

I’m not sure what the above dish was called but it was AMAZING - a mélange of flavors with pine nuts, salmon, cream, balsamic vinegar, and my new best friend, hazelnuts. 

The winery holds dinners once a month that are open to the public. If you are going to be in the area, contact the winery and make plans to attend. The inspiring surroundings, fine fare and excellent Cava's make for a notable evening.

Resources:
Adernats Vinícola de Nulles
http://www.vinicoladenulles.com/

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Last Week in Wine -- New series!

I often tweet out what wine I’m drinking during the week and highlight various wines from my region as well as from regions around the world, but I don't always have room in a tweet to elaborate on each wine. So I’ve decided to collect them in occasional posts called Last Week in Wine. Catchy title right? I got the idea from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

I doubt I will post this every single week, but this will be an ongoing series, a round-up of the wines I tried and some brief notes on each. Unless noted all wines were purchased with legal tender by me.


Here are the wines from the past week of November 2nd -8th, 2014

Stark Primitivo 2012
I’m not a big Zinfandel drinker, but I loves me some Primitivo. (Incidently both Zin and Primitivo are clones of the Croatian grape Crljenak.) This Stark wine from the Damiano Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills is just the ticket to send you on an Italian reverie (or perhaps a Croatian reverie considering the source) without the need to get on a plane. $38

Gloria Ferrer “Hands on Harvest” Pinot Noir 2010
This wine is not widely available. It was made as part of a Hands on Harvest event I attended in 2010 and the finished wine was sent to the participants. I’ve been holding on to these and this bottle showed some deeper characteristics from aging since the first bottle I tried in 2012. In my original notes I found it to be dry and spicy, but now it is much more lush, fuller, with rich dark fruit flavors and more balanced structure overall. Very nice indeed! (Priceless.)

Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Argentina 2012 
I first came upon this wine when I was living in Florida and cruising the local Total Wine aisles for some decent wine to take my mind off the fact I was living in Florida. Anyway this wine did the trick. I love Bonarda (aka Charbono in California) and this one is a great value and a true representation of how lovely Bonarda can be-- dark in color, light tannins and good acidity with a hint of mint, dark cherry and concentrated plum flavors. Brambly and delicious. I bought it at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa for $7.99.


Dingač Vinarija Pelješac  2012

Darker and richer than its sister wine, the Plavc, the Peljesac is has a medium body with a slightly sweeter base note on the palate. This is a bargain at $12.95. Buy a mixed case of this and the Plavac and see which you prefer. I think I’m leaning toward the Plavac, but it depends on what day it is. ;-)


Resources:
Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Argentina
http://www.colonialasliebres.com/

Blue Danbue Wine Dingač Vinarija -
http://www.bluedanubewine.com/winery/dingac/

Stark Wine
https://starkwine.com/store/item/2012-stark-primitivo

Monday, November 3, 2014

Talking Wine, Travel, and Writing on VinVillage Radio

Last week I had the chance to chat with Rob Barnett of Vin Village Radio about my blog, my recent travels to Spain and Latvia, and the upcoming season of writing retreats for Writing Between the Vines.

I was just back from my trip to Spain, jet-lagged and fighting off a bad cold, so it's amazing I did not cough once during the entire interview, but I do sound rather congested!

Listen in by clicking on the link below: http://filesource.abacast.com/wsradio/vinvillageradio/102914/segment3102914.mp3

Below is the page from VinVillage Radio page with the link to the audio file as well.


Marcy Gordon - Founder and Executive Director of "Writing Between the Vines" - Vineyard Retreats for Writers - A literary arts foundation providing residencies for writers on vineyard estates around the world 
 
Marcy Gordon's background is in consumer marketing where she worked to launch and position several start-ups including Travelocity and OpenTable. That experience, and her love of travel and writing, led her to become a freelance travel writer, who is currently the Forbes Travel Guide Correspondent for Napa and Sonoma. Along with her blog, "Come For The Wine" Marcy is also the Founder and Executive Director of "Writing Between the Vines" - Vineyard Retreats for Writers - A literary arts foundation providing residencies for writers on vineyard estates around the world.
 
 
Click HERE for Segment-3
 
 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Search of 50 Great Cava’s in Spain



Wow, where did the summer go?

It’s been a whirlwind of great wine and food in Santa Barbara, Mendocino, the Okanagan, and now I’m off to Riga, Latvia, to visit @SigneMeirane -- then on to Spain in search of 50 Great Cava’s as part of a tasting panel and the so called "Dream Team”.  (I think you need to drink a lot of Cava before our group approaches dreamy, but whatever.)

I’m excited to be catching up with my pals, the dynamic duo of travel writing and photography-- Lara Dunston and Terrence Carter, of Grantourismo. I originally met Lara and Terence in Portugal and had a very memorable birthday celebration with many glasses of vintage Port and a homemade birthday cake.

The Birthday Girl and Lara Dunston

Also on the 50 Great Cava’s trip will be photographer Andrew Barrow @wine_scribbler, with whom I also spent a very memorable birthday, snowbound in a hotel in southern Italy. Although I believe it was more memorable for me as Andrew claims not to recall much of that night.

Andrew pictured at top left
Follow the trip as it happens October 6-10th as we go Cuckoo for Cava.
Twitter: @50greatcavas 
Hashtags: #50gc #cava #Penedes
Facebook: 50 Great Cavas

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Traveling Between the Lines: Writers Explore the Wide World



If you follow this blog it’s a fairly safe bet you like to read my musings on travel and wine. Now you can hear yours truly read in person at LitQuake-- the literary happening of the year in San Francisco. LitQuake is a nine-day literary extravaganza for booklovers culminating with Lit Crawl featuring hundreds of readings.

Come on down to Peace Industry in the Mission on October 18th at 7:00 pm where I will be reading as part of the Traveling Between the Lines: Writers Explore the Wide World event along with  Marcia DeSanctis, Laurie Weed, Lavinia Spalding, Laurie McAndish King, Jeff Greenwald, and Larry Habegger.

You’ll laugh, you'll cry, you'll lose your car keys and find a contact lens, and you may even meet the love of your life and share glass of wine. Well, maybe not all those things, but you will certainly be amused and entertained. Anyway, it would be great to see you there.

More details here: http://www.litquake.org/events/traveling-between-lines-writers-explore-wide-world

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Come for the Wine - Speakeasy Interview On Grape Collective


Recently, Jameson Fink featured me in his Speakeasy series on Grape Collective, and asked me about my love for Croatian wine, best wine travel tips, the key to a good travel story, Writing Between the Vines, and that Sasquatch of wine blogging -- the elusive AP wine blogger.

Click here to read full interview on Grape Collective.



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