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Most people know that I literally live on the deck beginning in the spring until the cool weather hits in late October. There is something calming and relaxing about the wind blowing and the sounds of beautiful summer days and entertaining outdoors. And yes, a chilled glass of wine in the evening poolside watching the soothing water circulate relaxes my thoughts.
McManis Family Vineyard has been on our shelves for over 10 years. Their wines are consistently good and moderately priced. This month we will again their wines, so I thought it was a good time to review them. McManis is an old time favorite at a great price point to use for outdoor gatherings this summer.
We’ll start with the Pinot Grigio. It is definitely a winner to have poolside. The citrus bomb bursts as soon as the wine is poured in the glass. The aromas of lemon, lime and grapefruit are instantly refreshing and most welcoming for the senses. This wine would easily make a good summer white Sangria adding some frozen grapes to help keep it chilled. The vineyard says that the grapes are picked at night so they are already cold as they arrive at the winery. Then they are gently crushed, chilled and kept chilled throughout the wine making process; therefore, the frozen green grapes enhance the crispiness of this wine.
Chardonnay- yep I said it! Though I’m not a huge chardonnay fan this crisp wine is rich with bright fruit. There are aromas of pear, melon, peach, with a hint of vanilla, hazelnut, and buttered popcorn. It’s creamy with just enough crisp acidity that refreshes the pallet on a hot summer’s afternoon. The aging process is unique, using stainless steel to ferment the grapes, then aged in a mix of new and used French oak and American Oak for approximately eight months causing the wine to become balanced leaving the wine with low toasted oak flavors. This chardonnay is a good crowd pleaser, and I will definitely be serving it with some appetizers to friends and family.
I can’t leave out the reds… even when it is hot reds can be enjoyed. Lowering the wines’ temperature a tad helps make them more enjoyable in the summer heat. Chilling them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes will drop the temperature to around 65 degrees; it also releases some of the fruit characteristics they contain. McManis Zinfandel is perfect for a late evening meal. The wine is rich with fresh strawberry qualities, and it’s juicy with soft supple tannins. McManis Cabernet, pinot noir, merlot, petite shirah are also in stock and equally fabulous.
Rosé or Sauvignon Blanc with dinner? Wow, I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth. I’m sure this will come as a shocker to my fellow wine friends but I recently had Angels & Cowboys Rosé at our tasting last week and was quite impressed. It was fresh, had the aromas of dried berries, candid acidity, flirting with wild plums. Doesn’t that sound great to pair with a fresh fruit spring salad with a raspberry dressing and smoked Salmon?
A Sauvignon Blanc would also be a perfect choice with dinner. Cannonball, a Sonoma County wine, burst with grapefruit flavors but not as overwhelming as some Sauvignon Blanc’s can be. It’s bright with acidity, notes of nectarine and honeysuckle as well as grapefruit that with play well with most fresh fruit salads and fish.
Yep, I’ve definitely stepped out of my comfort zone and I encourage you all to do the same. Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc are perfect this time of the year: they are fresh and light like a sunny spring afternoon. But let’s not forget the evenings can still be a little cool so if you are mostly a red wine drinker like me try Cannonball, Cabernet Sauvignon; it’s big, bold and vibrant with black cherry, wild berry fruit and notes of chocolate and oak.
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The warm weather has been nice enough to enjoy the outdoors. Our favorite thing to do is build a fire in the fireplace in the evenings and enjoy a glass of wine after work. Often the neighbors join us when we fire it up I guess it sends smoke signals out and they come running with their wine. It’s so nice to live in the country and have close neighbors who enjoy wine and doesn’t mind trying new things. Spring is just around the corner and we are ready.
Although it’s warming up and it’s still a little cool at night and I’m not quite ready for white wine just yet. As I was browsing for something to take home I ran across a new wine Deicas that sparked my curiosity; it is a wine from Uruguay. The grape, tannat, is one that I’ve never heard of.
Tannat is a dark-blue grape, and is one of the most prominently grown grapes in Uruaguay and is considered the national grape. It’s also grown in the US in the states of Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, Oregon and some small plantings in California. Tannat wine from Uruguay are quiet different than the wines grown in the US. They are lighter in body and lower in tannins. Some reviews say it’s reminiscent of cabernet franc I’m not sure I agree with that although it does resemble a lighter cabernet with of the slight sweetness. Deicas is fruity, light and with a lighter alcohol burn which is surprising since it has 14% alcohol content.
Deicas is a good wine to cellar. We may have to put a bottle in the cellar and try it again in six months; I believe it could be better with a little age. Don’t be afraid to try different grape varietals. There are lots of them and exciting to know that there are more than just pinot noir, cabernet, sauvingnon blanc or pinot gri. Be adventurous.
Streamers, poppers, hats, fireworks, and horns will be blaring loudly this weekend ringing in the New Year all around the world. Normally we ring in the New Year with friends but this year I think a nice quiet evening at home with the family will be perfect. Sparkling wine is the customary beverage for this celebration- which is going to be a challenge for me because we don't drink a lot of bubbly. There are a few choices that come to mind: Chandon, California's sparkling wine in the traditional method of making Champagne; Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut, a true French Champagne; and Jaume Serra's Cristalino, a Spanish Cava also made in the traditonal method.
Searching for the best sparkling wine for New Year's Eve can be challenging; some share the bottle with friends and others only pour a small amount in everyone's glass for a toast at midnight. So depending on it's purpose, I recommend choosing wisely because some Champagnes and Sparklings can be quite expensive.
Chandon is a good choice for a small group of friends, however, for large gatherings, I recommend Cristalino for a toast at the stroke of midnight. Moet & Chandon is perfect to share with those who appreciate a nice glass of tasty exotic bubbles of a true Champagne. At $45.99, Moet & Chandon is meant to be enjoyed, not wasted. I don't think bringing out the sabre to open the bottle to entertain guests is a good idea.
Remember to be careful when popping the cork, as there is a lot of pressure behind it and you do not want to begin 2018 holding a bag of frozen peas to your or a friend's eye.
Happy New Year!
Cranberry sauce on top of Momma’s homemade dressing – Ooo, I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. The house will be filled with the aromas of sage, spice and let’s not forget the pecan pie. Our family will fill the house with laughter, everyone talking with loud excited voices, catching up on the last few months since the last time we were together and the pitter patter of the little ones running around the house. This is my favorite time of the year! There’s planning to be done, as I think about what we will prepare for our Thanksgiving meal and of course one of my thoughts is what wine to serve.
So here is what I have chosen, for starters: Quilt, Cabernet to sip on with my siblings with assorted cheese and olives marinated in olive oil and Italian seasoning as we prepare the meal; yum. The Napa Valley cabernet by Joseph Wagner is deep, rich, and full-bodied with dark plum but yet it’s smooth on the palate. It’ll be great before dinner and if there is any left it would be even better after.
For the meal: two French wines for the ladies who don’t drink red wine; Belleruche Cotes-Du-Rhone Rose and Domaine Specht Pinot Gris. The Cotes-du-Rhone has fresh aromas of strawberry and raspberry with a touch of citrus on the finish the sour apple and cherry flavors get a little stronger. Domaine Specht is a fresh smooth pinot gris from Alscace unlike the gris from California that are crisp and acidic. Both of these French wines will pair well with chicken and turkey. To complete our Thanksgiving meal I’ll add the traditional red wine for the season a Beaujolais which is similar to a pinot noir but a bit sharper on the palate. Flurie by Lucien Lardy 2014 is a excellent choice to serve to guests. It’s the older brother to Beaujolais Nouveau which will satisfy those wanting something light, fruity and fun. This gamay wine from France will enhance the flavor of Momma’s delicious chicken dressing and bring out the bright, red berry flavors of the cranberry sauce.
From all of us at Emporium Wine and Spirits, Happy Thanksgiving.
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