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Archive for Wine

NEWS: California Invites You To The “Land Of Wine And Food”

Apricot Orchard
Harvesting apricots in the Bonacich Orchard. Photo by Robert Holmes | California Travel and Tourism Commission
  As more and more people are planning their entire vacations around food and wine, the tourism industry is taking notice. California, with its vineyards, bountiful farms, cheese makers and star chefs, is the hottest destination in America for culinary tourism (yes, that’s what it’s called). We attended a luncheon and wine tasting organized by the California Travel and Tourism Commission, to celebrate its new campaign called “Land of Wine and Food.” You’ll see magazine ads, a website and even TV spots featuring celebrities, wine makers and chefs. At the launch event in New York City, we were greeted with a table of goodies, prepared and presented by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri (the original winnner of “The Next Food Network Star”).

Guy had prepared some of California’s signature dishes: A Tomales Bay Kumamoto oyster tasted so fresh, it was hard to believe that it had flown across the country. The fried version of the oyster with a generous smattering of Californian Dry Jack cheese had us asking for seconds. Also on Guy’s appetizer table were succulent Cornish game hens and San Francisco’s seasonal favorite, Dungeness crab.Now that we had a little food in our system, we were ready to partake in the “Wine Tasting Tour of California,” led by some of the winemakers whose wines were showcased. We tasted seven wines, ranging from a dry Muscat from Chalk Hill to an oaky Cabernet from Oakville (which seems funny when you see it in print, but not all wines from Oakville are oaky). Our personal favorite was the 2004 Curtis Winery Syrah from Santa Barbara County, presented by the winemaker (and former star of “The Bachelor”) Andrew Firestone. It tasted of plum and blackberry with a hint of vanilla and a caramelly finish. We’ll be searching for bottles of this one on our next trip to the wine store.

All this was followed by…lunch! John Stewart and Duskie Estes, the husband/wife chef team behind the restaurant Zazu in Santa Rosa, presented us with a delicious family-style meal, focusing on the seasonal and the sustainable for which Zazu is known. (in fact, many of the ingredients were picked from the organic garden at the back of the restaurant). A whole roasted lamb, raised by one their neighbors in Santa Rosa, was tender and bursting with flavor. The side of “Enormous Fagioli,” big Italian-style white beans, was accompanied by crisped vegetable bits that imparted a smoky flavor. We even discovered a new vegetable, puntarelle, which tastes a bit like chicory and is completely addictive.

The meal was accompanied by many of the same wines that we had tasted, plus new ones including a Bordeaux-style blend by Rodney Strong called Symmetry. Dessert was a stellar finish to the meal—burst-in -your-mouth goat cheese fritters, topped with chestnut honey (also provided by a beekeeper who is a neighbor to the restaurant.) In California, it seems, the best meal is the one that comes from just next door. Go locavore! Go culinary tourism! Go to California and taste all of this great food firsthand. Visit LandOfWineAndFood.com for information and to enter to win a six-day adventure to California’s Central Valley.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Watch Your Wine Timelines

If you have an unopened bottle of spirits, it can last for years. But except for collector wines that need bottle age, most wines are meant to be drunk within a year: otherwise, they deteriorate. If you’re not sure about a wine you own, ask at your local wine store. You don’t need a special occasion to open a nice bottle of wine. If you don’t have enough participation to finish the bottle in an evening, use a wine preservative and enjoy it over a week. Here’s a good wine preservative spray. Read more about vino in the Wine Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Wine Preservative Spray
If you have no one to share that fine wine with, enjoy it yourself. Use a preservative spray to keep the remainder fresh for a few days or a week until you can finish the bottle.
 

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REVIEW: BevWizard Wine Smoother

How many times have you opened a bottle of wine to find it tough, tannic, yielding no fruit? Maybe you drank it anyway, maybe you set it aside and opened another bottle, hoping for a better experience. BevWizard is hoping to give you a better experience the first time around. It’s a $28 gadget that claims to soften red and white wines and make them fruitier. If your wine is too hard, too tannic, too acidic, just snap the pouring spout onto the bottle, pour the wine through it, and it will be altered into a better state by the magnets inside, so say the manufacturers. In some cases, we found that it works. In our tests, it softened and brought out the fruit in reds that were 6 years or under. In the case of Barolo, it softened the tannins but we didn’t like the result. If you like gadgets and experimenting, you may want a BevWizard of your own. Read the results of our tests in the full review, in the Wine Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   BevWizard

In some cases, the BevWizard pouring spout can help snatch victory from the glass of defeat.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: Tulip Hill “Aria” Wine


Aria Wine
“Aria” wine and CD gift set.
  Many wine collectors also like opera. Now, there’s a gift custom-made for them. Janet Hopkins, a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera, has teamed up with California’s Tulip Hill Winery, an award-winning boutique winemaker, to create Aria, a red meritage (blend of grapes) with a matching CD of arias by Ms. Hopkins. The singer was involved in selecting the blend, working with Tulip Hill wine maker Ed West; she then chose just the right music to complement the wine.
Recipients can sip the wine as they listen to favorite Italian songs such as “O Sole Mio” and “Santa Lucia,” as well as arias from La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. The gift set, in a handsome black package that unfolds to reveal both the bottle and the CD, is $59.95; both the wine and the CD are sold separately as well. For more information about this limited-edition gift, visit TulipHillWinery.com

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WINE: Beauties From Calabria and Puglia

Last night we went to a tasting of Southern Italian wines from Winebow, an importer and distributer of premium wines from Italy, Spain and South America. You can pretty much never go wrong with a Winebow import. Company founder Leonardo LoCascio, who presented the wines, has the passion and palate to represent only well-made wines from family-owned properties. All of the wines were good, some memorable, and most were priced for everyday enjoyment at $10 to $15. We fell for two wines from grapes we never heard of (but like most people, we know little about the wines from this region). Gravello IGT* Val di Neto 2005 is a “Super Calabrian” wine, a new blend of 60% Gaglioppo, a grape indigenous to Calabria, and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, an expensive import from France that adds depth, character and cost (and the title “Super,” which began in the 1980s with the Super Tuscan blends). The wine is aged for three years, of which 18 to 24 months is spent in Allier barriques, the fine oak barrels used to age Bordeaux. Drinking beautifully now, this wine has serious plummy fruit and a finish that lasted for about 10 minutes. It’s worth every cent of the $32.00 retail. For almost a third the price and equally as impressive, the rustic-style Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOC 2003 from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s “boot”) was spicy, earthy and sensual. It’s a blend of Negroamaro and a small amount of Malvasia Nera. Five days of maceration with the skins has extracted beautiful color plus black cherry and dried fruits—prune, raisin—plus lead pencil nuances found in some great Bordeaux. In fact, the wine is aged for two years, and 20% of it is refined in French barriques of Allier, Nevers and Tronçais oak. It’s a beautiful food wine for roasted and grilled dishes, as well as pizza, for those of us who think that “pizza wine” should be as good as “filet mignon wine.” Both wines are available nationwide. At these prices, we’re buying a case of the Gravello and two of the Salice Salentino—which for $12 makes a great stocking stuffer.   Gravello Val di Neto
Gravello Val di Neto from Calabria: beautiful fruit, complexity and length.
*IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, indicates a geopgraphic area but is not as strict as the DOC classification, which specifies permitted grape varieties, amonng other things. Many non-traditional wines such as the Super Tuscans fall into this category.

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