Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2008

I was on BART when I read this great wine article in the New York Times One of the wines, Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2008, was available in our Berkeley warehouse, so I bought two bottles. I brought one of them to a get-together last night.  There were four of us at the gathering, though only three drinking wine. So we poured three big glasses of this Pinot, which we paired with excellent pizzas … BBQ chicken and Vegetarian on whole wheat crust. 

I liked it … it’s a good Pinot, but not a phenomenal Pinot to me.  To be fair, the article really built up the vintage and called it superb. Again, they called the year of 2008 superb, not necessarily the wine. In fact, the judges described the Adelsheim as “lively and structured,” which it is.  But beware of the alcohol content – my partner and I woke up with a slight headache from our one big glass each.


When drinking the second bottle, I’ll be careful to share it between four instead of three and also try pairing it with something a bit more sweet and savory (like roasted pork with a fruit sauce)  to bring out more of the sweet notes.


Valentine’s Day labels

Though you usually don’t want to pick a wine ONLY on its label, for certain holidays and festivities, it’s nice to have a label that matches the occasion. A good holiday for that practice? Valentine’s Day!

Here are a few romantic wines to get you in the mood.

ironhorseweddingIron Horse Wedding Cuvee: Ideal if you are married, but not necessary. This is a fantastic and delicious bubbly that is sure to put romance in the glass as well.

Hugel Cuvee Les Amours: Amours… love in French. This cuvee is a lovely, delicate wine. With aromas of fresh flowers and stone fruits, a round texture and a refreshing finish – a great way to start off your Valentine evening…

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling: This wine is named after a Beethoven symphony, but some (including myself) see the label and think, erotica? what? And the wine itself is so seductive in taste and flavor, this is a perfect wine for love.

Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: You can’t beat actually having Valentine in the name, can you? This winery is perched high above Napa in the Spring Mountain district. This high elevation leads to wines with structure and finesse. Delicious with a hearty Valentine’s Day dinner.

halfdozenroseOne wine won’t to, you must check out our gift idea – a half dozen or dozen “rosés” – you get six or 12 rosé wines – now who would not want that over actual roses? Reminds me of the scene in “Stranger than Fiction,” when Will Ferrell’s character gives Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character “flours” instead of “flowers.” Our case and half-case of rosé wine include some delicious pink wine perfect for Valentine’s Day. Especially if that loved one loves rosé, like me!

What are your favorite labels that fit the Valentine’s Day theme?

The Pregnant Palate: Drinking Hugel Riesling

I’ve got a little over 8 weeks left before the little peanut arrives, which is very exciting as pregnancy can be one of those things that makes time stand very still. My palate has done little tasting, but perhaps that’s not a bad thing as few wines I’ve tasted seem at all enjoyable. Red wines taste either too herbaceous or completely contrived and fake, whites are better, but most seem to lack complexity. Not that we are opening many complex wines  – those are off limits until I’m able to enjoy a full glass. But there a few I’ve tasted that please this pregnant palate.

hugelI was recently sent a some samples of Hugel wines from Fredrick Wildman. Hugel is not new to me, I’ve been drinking their wine since my amateur wine days in New York. It was a lovely experience to re-visit their Riesling. I love Alsace Rieslings – they have a stony minerality that gives a great backbone to the Alsace fruit. This wine definitely shows those characters – there is a blend of minerality, fruit (peach, pear) and a touch of flowers. What I like about this wine – what my current palate likes about this wine – is its acidity. It is crisp and clean, but not overbearing. Overall quite balanced. This is not a complex Riesling, with layers of aromas and flavors, but it has all the aspects I like in a good white wine – clean, refreshing, balanced and smooth. And I like that it’s under $20! It’s one I will get a few bottles of for the coming warmer months when I’m able to drink my wine again.


The Pregnant Palate: Birthday Dinner

When you’re pregnant on your birthday, you have to focus on a dinner with super delicious food rather than super delicious wine. I suppose you could do super delicious wine, but for me there would be lots of jealousy involved so I request focusing on food. That said, my birthday dinner at small, foodie place in Northeast Portland had both amazing food and some super interesting and yummy wines.

DOC is the restaurant, an Italian place that has about 7 tables and an open kitchen. The menu is small but diverse and everything looked amazing. We opted for the tasting menu – 5 courses, they pick the dishes and each of you get something different so you can share. We were really able to taste a multitude of things.

My husband also opted for the wine pairing for the menu, which is a great way to taste some new things when he does not want to try and drink a bottle on his own. Plus I got to have little sips of most of them. Here are some very cool discoveries we made:

Provenza Spumante Brut “Sebastian” Metodo Charmat – To this day the word “spumante” on a label makes me step back a bit as I am reminded of the cheap Spumante d’Asti given to me in college. But the term “spumante” refers to the amount and size of the bubbles in wine, not to the quality of the wine itself. This particular wine hails from Lombardy and is made in the charmat or tank method, which differs from the traditional Champagne method because the bubbles are obtained by the addition of carbon dioxide into a pressurized tank rather than allowing a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It’s much less expensive than the traditional method, and the character of the wine is more fruit-driven, producing less secondary yeast characteristics. But the style can be delicious, as this wine proves. The palate was full of bright apple, crisp acidity and and a very balanced feel. Good match with oysters (I was told).

The second wine that stood out was a Kerner from Alto Adige – don’t have the producer’s name as the server, who was fantastic, described and poured the wine but we had little time to study the label. Kerner is an interesting grape, found in Germany, Austria and northern Italy. It is a crossing between Riesling and Trollinger, a slightly obscure red variety known to the region. Like Riesling, the wine was aromatic, with stone fruit flavors, crisp acidity and a touch of floral. I loved the texture of this wine as it was more medium-bodied and really lingering. Big fan – want to find more. it was also great with our beet salad and brussel sprouts (those dishes sound boring, but they were phenomenal the way DOC prepared them).

Next up was Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Rusticum, a wine made with white grapes, but fermented in the style of red – using longer skin contact and some oxidation. So rather than being white, it’s a more gold-almost-orange color. The nose is nutty, but with some honey, orange peel and white flowers. The palate has more fruit, though it still retains that nutty characteristic. It’s a very different sort of wine, almost like Sherry, but still retaining white wine characteristics. With the right food (for us, white truffle risotto and a chanterelle mushroom and pasta dish) this wine works. It’s not necessarily my normal style, though. But I love the story – you may have heard of monks making wine, right? Well this wine is made at a convent by nuns. The vineyard is located just north of Rome and the grapes are organically grown.

For our meat course we enjoyed a Nero d’Avola, which to be honest, we never got the name and was not our favorite. Granted, my palate is not in tune to red wines and my husband, as he stated, is still trying to figure out if he likes Nero d’Avola.

So I’ll move onto the last wine, a Moscato d’Asti. I missed the producer, but there are few Moscato d’Astis that I do not like, particularly now – I call it the pregnancy wine as many bottles have only 5% alcohol so a few sips is enjoyable and affects you very little, particularly at the end of the meal. What I particularly liked about this wine was the preparation. Tableside, our server first peeled a piece of grapefruit rind into our glass. He then added elderflower syrup, followed by the Moscato d’Asti. Such a great cocktail! He even made me one with sparkling water over the d’Asti. A great dessert on its own as well.

So that was the birthday dinner for the pregnant wino. In 9 weeks (probably a bit more) I’ll be back to tasting and drinking and will certainly seek out some more gems like these!

Still loving California, but growing more adventurous!

The customers of were California Dreaming in 2010, according to the numbers – the region topped our list of most bottles sold and came in with about 40% growth. And why not? California represents some of the most delicious wines in the world, from value to collectible, and the diversity of varieties is so broad, it pleases a Pinot lover as well as a Zinfandel fanatic. That said, we still saw a lot of Napa Valley purchases – that region’s growth was up 92%. Guess that goes with the numbers that show Cabernet Sauvignon was the number one grape variety as well.

But beyond the California borders, we’re excited about what other regions people are trying, like Beaujolais. Often associated with only Beaujolais Nouveau, drinkers are discovering the delicious diversity and quality of Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Crus. Not to mention, 2009 was a fantastic vintage for the region, so great wines at great values were good for all. Bordeaux was also up – another region that enjoyed the 2009 vintage. Portugal came in third at 79%, and that was not just for Port. Dry reds from Portugal, as well as refreshing whites, are finally getting the recognition they deserve. South Africa rounded out the top 4 growth regions – maybe a World Cup boost?

So it looks like 2010 was a year of both traditional drinking and adventurous tasting. We look forward to what 2011 brings!

The Official Blog