Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

A drink with the Crowleys

downtonbottle2They are here. And almost gone. I speak of the Downton Abbey wines, a white and a red from Bordeaux of which even Carson would approve.

We tasted these wines yesterday and were quite impressed. Though some wines that latch on to a celebrity name or brand are not stellar quality, others look for good wine at the right price to associate with a well-respected image. For Downton Abbey, the situation is the latter.

The Downton Abbey Blanc hails from the Entre-Deux-Mers area of Bordeaux, a region that excels in white wine production from the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. It shows bright citrus and stone fruits on the nose and the palate is ripe apple – we may even call it fruity – with vibrant acidity and a soft texture. Nice balance and a wine I think would be ideal for a seafood dish or even a pasta with a rich sauce. If you like California Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll enjoy this wine.

As for the Claret, it’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec and definitely calls out for some protein. It is balanced overall with dark berries and black currant, touch of spice, touch of floral notes and great acidity and good structure. But I do highly recommend with food!

So stock up to sip on these two wines for the January premiere! We’ve heard fans will need a strong drink!

Goulish wines for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching (as in 3 days from now!). The evening is full of spooky revelry for both kids and adults. In my neighborhood, after the kiddos are in bed and the masses have subsided, the adults get together for their own version of candy – wine & cocktails! This is a fun time to choose wines for their label, and we have some spooky – and delicious – picks.

velvetdevil

The Velvet Devil Merlot - with a pitch fork and everything! From eccentric winemaker, Charles Smith, this is a supple red from Washington State.

Ghost Pines -  The winery produces Chardonnay,  Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend. The wines are smooth and supple, with lots of ripe fruit.

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo - “Cellar of the devil” – got to have these wines on hand for any Halloween festivities as they are great value and actually named for a haunted cellar!

Razor’s Edge – Choose from Shiraz or Shiraz-Grenache. The label harks back to movies with Freddy Kruger or Jason from “Halloween.” What’s inside is that ripe Aussie fruit style – easy drinking and good for watching the kiddos go door-to-door.

Zinfandel. A History

May is National BBQ month, and what better wine to go with BBQ than Zinfandel!  So with that, a little history of Zinfandel

Origin: Croatia
Hot Spot: California, Southern Italy
SynonymsPrimitivo, Plavac Mali

Zinfandel is often touted as the ideal grape for 4th of July BBQs and even Thanksgiving dinner as it is the quintessential “California” grape. So how did a grape variety from Croatia come to be known as the “California Varietal?” Wine grape historians (not their technical name but we’ll call them that) traced the variety back to the 1820s, when it was imported from an Austrian nursery and found a home somewhere on the east coast of the US.  About the time of the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, Zinfandel found its way to the west coast.  By the late 1800s was the “it” grape, partly due to its productivity and sturdy constitution. Even during prohibition, Zinfandel remained popular for home winemakers, which is one reason you see such very old Zinfandel vines.

In the 1960s, researchers recognized that Zinfandel and Primitivo contained the same “grape” DNA. Then in 2001, researchers did some “fingerprinting” on a few old vines in Croatia. Turns out that Zinfandel is a version of an ancient grape called “Crljenak Kaštelanski.”  And yet, it is still known as the classic California grape. You may see some plantings in Australia and even Europe, but for the most part, Zinfandel has stayed true to its California base.

And what about White Zinfandel? Zinfandel is a red grape – always has been – but in the 1960s and 70s, Americans preferred white wine. So in 1972, Bob Trinchero launched what turned out to be one of the largest successes in the wine business. Using free run Zinfandel juice, with a little added sweetness and occasionally some more aromatic white varieties, White Zinfandel skyrocketed in popularity and sales.  The craze for this slightly sweet, lightly pink wine brought awareness to Zinfandel, even the original red kind. Advocates of the grape began to protect the vineyards, particularly the old vines from before prohibition.

Defining Traits: Big, bold, jammy, spicy, brambly
Depending on where it is grown, the age of the vines, and the methods of the winemaker, Zinfandel can vary in its flavor profile. It’s a sturdy grape, so its rare to find a “light-bodied” Zinfandel, but you’ll find a range of styles, from elegant to spicy to brawny to jammy. Typical characteristics include spice, jam, all sort of wild berry flavors, pepper, leather and sometimes a bit of oak notes.

So we raise or glass to the American grape from Croatia – To Zinfandel!

Wine unites the country

For fun, we pulled some data last month on what voters around the country are drinking. In particular, we wanted to see what red states were drinking vs. blue states, and also what those “battleground” states were sipping as well. Interestingly enough, our bottle preferences are not nearly as divided as our politics. In fact, the number one wine was the same across party lines.

The top wine across the board? Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. Great value, great wine – isn’t that what everyone wants, after all?

When we get to the #2 wine, however, the blue states go fancy on us. For them, it was all about the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, while the red and undecided states preferred the Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. The blue states and swing states met up again on the number 3 wine, preferring the Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava, a fantastic bubbly value, while red states took in the Glen Carlou Grand Classique. Red states seem to love their red wine…

The one wine  (other than #1) that both blue and red states choose? The Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon.

So, while our ballots may differ, our wine tastes remain similar. And if you can’t find anything else to drink to, drink to that!

P.S. Remember to VOTE Tuesday, November 6th!