Burgers and Bubbles

This Champagne was a media sample from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Until recently I thought champagne and sparkling wines were only drank when celebrating.  It didn’t matter what you were celebrating, you just had to be celebrating.  But thanks to social media, I have come to realize that champagne, like wine, is meant to be enjoyed any day.  You don’t need a special reason, you just need to open the bottle!  The champagne makes the day/event special.

I am really glad I came to this realization, as I have a few bottles of Champagne and sparkling wine I need to review.

hamburgerA couple of nights ago, I decided to pop (literally) open a bottle of sparkling wine from McGregor Vineyards.  I had actually been thinking about having sparkling wine all day.  So when I started home from work, I had to come up with a pairing.  I decided what better way to celebrate Finger Lakes Sparkling wines than with a traditional American hamburger.  And it worked – everything tasted better with this pairing.  the burger tasted better because of the sparkling wine and the sparkling wine tasted better because of the burger.  I think we have a winner!!!

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The McGregor 2008 Blanc d’ Noir is a 100% estate grown Pinot Noir sparkling wine made in the méthode Champenoise tradition. It is a complex and rich sparkler bursting with Pinot Noir fruit character, lingering tiny bubbles and a long finish. The experience is full, intense and even more gratifying with fine foods.  (quote from McGregor website).

There are several champagne mixers you can create that add even more variety to when and where you could drink champagne or sparkling wine.  The most famous is the Mimosa – simply combining Champagne with orange juice, but you can mix it up and try substituting Sprite for the orange juice and adding some sweetened strawberries for a refreshing afternoon take on the mimosa.  What a great way to cool off on a hot, humid summer day.You could also pour a glass of champagne and add an ounce of simple syrup and crushed, sweetened blackberries.

No matter how you blend it or mix it, make champagne and sparkling wine a staple in your house.  Have it readily available to serve friends when they drop by unexpectedly or to serve with that burger hot off the grill on any given night.  Champagne makes any day and any occasion a special event.

Varietal:  Pinot Noir          Alcohol:  13%          Price:  $29.99


Six Pack – Trione Vineyards & Winery

I love a good six-pack! (No, wait, we are supposed to be talking about wine!) 🙂

I actually received a special treat in the mail the other day through Tasting Room (who has recently partnered with Lot 18) with a six-pack of sampler bottles from Trione Vineyards & Winery enclosed.  I was not familiar with Trione Vineyards & Winery but thought it would be fun to do a blog post about all six wines which is their current wine offering through the tasting room.

Trione Sampler

Trione Sampler

For more than 30 years Trione has been growing award-winning grapes for other wineries, then in 2005, decided to take it to the next level and start making their own wines.  What a great business decision!!!

The sampler included their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Chardonnay, their 2008 Syrah, their 2008 Pinot Noir, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and  a 2007 Red Blend.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have probably noticed that I have never reviewed a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris (Grigio).  I have never found one that I like.  The tannic bitter finish and the strong grapefruit taste just turn me off.  So I opened this one with trepidation, hoping to pair it with the right food to make it palatable.

Trione pairings

Trione pairings

The pairing line up consisted of (in order by the picture) a white cheddar, Smithfield spiral cut ham, white cheddar Cheez-It’s, smoked cheddar and bruschetta.  (We will ignore the fact that I was eating alone!)  I was trying to get creative so that I had a pairing for each wine.

Apparently I hit a home run!  The white cheddar and the Sauvignon Blanc were the absolute perfect pairing.  These sample bottles are only a couple of ounces so this first sip paired with this cheese  begged for more.  I begged for more – I could have truly enjoyed a whole bottle!  Yes me, the Red Wine Diva – I could have drunk a whole bottle.  There was no bitter aftertaste, no over-powering tannins, no bitter grapefruit – yeah!!!  The winemaker describes this wine as crisp, but I found it mild and sumptuous, almost a delicacy – one that should be enjoyed by all.  (Trione Sauvignon Blanc – 14.0% alcohol, price – $23).

Next up was the 2009 Chardonnay.  I typically like a Chardonnay, but once again, this one was exceptional.  The smooth buttery, Creme Brulée leads to a long, silky finish.  The winemaker suggest that this wine could actually age another three to five years which speaks highly of his winemaking style.  One of my pairings was a simple brushcetta on an olive oil toasted bread.  Once again, the pairing worked, the wine worked and I highly recommend it!  (14.3% alcohol, price – $30).

Moving on to the 2008 Russian Valley River Pinot Noir, we find classic examples of black cherry and earthiness lending itself to a long, silky finish.  I paired this wine with the Smithfield ham and the Cheez-It crackers.  As a Pinot Noir fan from way back, I can attest that this wine will hold its own in any competition.  You will notice the characteristic watered-down red color of the wine as you pour it which is indicative of any great Pinot. (no winemaker’s notes on the 2008, but the 2009 is 14.3% alochol – price, $35).

Now for the 2008 Syrah.  Syrah has long been a favorite of mine.  The first sip of this wine and I knew I had just tasted a bit of heaven.  Reaching for the smoked cheddar to pair this with, I once again found myself wanting a whole bottle instead of just this 2-ounce sampler.  The smoky cheddar and the ham both melted in my mouth as I paired them with the earthy notes of this smooth, silky wine.  (15.3% alcohol – price, $32).

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon presented itself as a classic bordeaux blend with 10% Merlot and 2.5% of both Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Having been aged for a total of 24 months, this inky colored wine oozes allspice, black currant and clove.  It is bold and commands its place at the table but has a velvety texture and smooth tannins that linger just long enough on the palate to allow you to reach for the glass again.  This wine paired exceptionally well with both the white cheddar and the smoked cheddar as well as the ham.  This is definitely my recommendation for the next “Cabernet Day.”  (14.5% alcohol – price, $64).

Last, but not least, is the Trione 2007 Red Blend – a luxurious wine made in the bordeaux style similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is full-bodied but still balanced with a smooth tannin structure.  The winemaker suggests you could age this wine for 5-10 years.  (14.9% alcohol – price $48).

You can join the Trione Estate Guild wineclub and have these wines delivered directly to your door; and if you are ever in Geyersville, CA, I recommend a visit to their tasting room located at 19550 Geyersville Avenue, Geyersville, CA  95441.

Soaring High – Highflyer Pinot Noir

This wine was a media sample from Somerston Wine Company.

One of the things about wine that amazes me is how our palate constantly evolves.  A few years ago I developed an affinity for Pinot Noir.  I think this was after my love of Cabernet Sauvignon and before my love for Zinfandel.  Even though my evolution continues, I find that I can still fall back to one of these old favorites and it is like putting on that sweater you’ve had for at least ten years but just can’t bring yourself to get rid of.  Its comforting.  It brings back memories and stories and a smile.

What I thought when I received this bottle of 2009 Highflyer Pinot Noir from Somerston Wine Company was, “Wow – it’s been a while since I tasted a Pinot.”  And then I found myself really looking forward to it!  I actually received three different wines from the Highflyer line and I have been impressed with all of them.  (Highlyer Centerline  and Highflyer Grenache Blanc)

The grapes for this wine were harvested from a vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands where they are known for “bolder character and elegant flavor.”  This Pinot was a deeper color than some Pinots and was bursting with flavors of dark stone fruit and earth.

Varietal: Pinot Noir          Alcohol:  14.5%          Price:  $38

Although Somerston Wines are not sold at retail locations, you can make reservations for a visit to Somerston Estate and enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard.  You will be able to purchase wines at the Estate.  You can also join one of the wine clubs and receive Somerston Wines before they are ever released as well as get discounts on exclusive Somerston Experiences.

NC Holiday Wine Project – #5

This wine was a media sample provided by Iron Gate Winery

Red is my favorite color – in everything, especially wine!  And this wine, Blessings, is the most beautiful ruby-red wine.   It is a Pinot Noir that has been infused with cranberry making it the perfect pairing for your holiday meal of turkey, dressing and cranberry salad.  A holiday special from Iron Gate Winery , this semi-sweet wine will pair with most anything and will please even the most discerning guest.  Add some mulling spices and this wine will take the chill off as you and your family and friends come in out of the cold.  It is a great gift wine as well!


Varietal:  Pinot Noir (infused with cranberry) 

Alcohol: 9%

Residual Sugar: 4%

Price: $12.85 (10% discount on case purchases)

And The Winner Is…

The 23rd Annual Pinehurst Food and Wine Festival is winding down today. This year’s festival was hugely successful by any standards. It was a sold out event with great wine, great food and great entertainment.

The Festival kicked off Friday, September 2 with a wine tasting & competition where the guests served as judges, scoring wine in ten different categories: Premium and Prestige Chardonnay, Premium and Prestige Pinot Grigio, Premium and Prestige Pinot Noit, Premium and Prestige Cabernet Sauvignon, Prestige Organic Chardonnay, and Prestige Organic Pinot Noir. Premium (less than $20 retail) and Prestige (wines that were greater than $20 retail). The medals were not categorized as gold, silver and bronze, but rather as medals of distinction and recognition.

The People Choice Premium Awards:

Benziger 2009 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay

Cambria 2008 Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay

Catena 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Estancia 2010 Pinot Grigio

The People Choice Prestige Awards:

Stewart Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

DeLoach 2009 Pinot Noir OFS

St Innocent 2009 Villages Cuvee Pinot Noir

Botega Vinaia 2009 Trentino Pinot Grigio

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