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You Need to Know this Russian River Valley Chardonnay

The Wine of the Week: Joseph Swan Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay

by Annette Tomei

2014 Joseph Swan, Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River, Sonoma, CaliforniaAnnette Tomei Reviews Joseph Swan Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

I’m celebrating turning 50 this year, and I’m proud to share my birth year with Joseph Swan Vineyards. When I think of Sonoma County, I think small farms and vineyards, small wineries and artisan producers, friendly people, and an abundance of deliciousness. Joseph Swan Vineyards is part of what makes this vision come to life. Joe Swan believed in the value of small vineyards, small production, and personal care. Today, his daughter and son-in-law are taking it to the next level.

Ritchie Vineyard (owned and tended by Kent Ritchie) is considered to be one of the premier sites for Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley. Grapes from this vineyard produce intensely flavored, complex, nuanced wines with great natural acidity.

About this Wine

This wine is pale yellow in color.  Aromas of guava and tropical flowers remind me of warm breezes in Kauai. It is simultaneously intense and smoothly seductive. On the palate, flavors of toasty almond, ripe apricot, and tart juicy citrus with a touch of silky stoniness on the clean finish. Only the rich texture belies the 14.5% ABV and 30% new French oak.

This isn’t the wine I’d grab to drink on its own, or while mindlessly grazing. This is a wine for savoring with good company and good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just selected and served with some love! I recommend enjoying this wine with locally raised organic pork chops, roasted chicken, or one of my Sonoma County favorites – Vella Dry Jack cheese. For the a vegetarian entree, wild mushroom risotto or hearty grains with roasted or grilled market-fresh squashes (winter or summer).

The Verdict

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, public tasting events are a great way to learn about wines and to discover new favorites. I had the pleasure of tasting this wine at an event hosted by the Sonoma County Vintners. Now, I have a new favorite Chardonnay! At $45/bottle I’ll be serving this wine with a meal prepared with the same attention to detail that went into the making of the wine – maybe something inspired by the memories of warm breezes and sunny days in the Russian River Valley.

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

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Do You Know the Wines of Vacqueyras?–fall in love with Chateau des Tours

The Wine of the Week: Chateau des Tours Vacqueyras

by Annette Tomei

2009 Chateau des Tours Vacqueyras Rouge, Rhône, FranceChateau des Tours--one of the great wines of Vacqueyras | EatSomethingSexy.com

The Vacqueyras is located in the southern Rhone region of France. Once part of the Cote du Rhone Villages, it was awarded its own AOC designation in 1990 because the region produces consistently distinct wines of good quality. The wines of Vacquyras are considered to be similar in character to those of its neighbors, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, though a bit less refined (but no less delicious!).

By law, the red wines of the Vacqueyras must include a minimum of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah or Mourvedre and 10% of any typical Rhone red grape except Carignan. This particular blend is 80% Grenache with 20% Syrah.

Chateau des Tours is owned by Chateau Rayas (known for its exceptional – and exceptionally expensive – Chateauneuf-du-Pape). This property was acquired in the mid-1930s to diversify in terroir and style, as well as to provide a legacy for the next generation of the Reynaud family. It has been under the care of Emmanuel Reynaud since 1978. Today he operates all of the Chateau Rayas and Chateau des Tours properties.

About this Wine

A perfect way to step gently into autumn. Aromas of ripe black plum and raspberry jam are followed by a hint of black pepper and smokey meatiness (characteristic of my favorite Rhone Syrahs). As it opens, more floral aromas emerge. On the palate, blueberries and maple bacon. As my tasting guide, Kate put it, “Breakfast wine!” (wish I had said it myself!) – so true. This is a medium bodied wine with fine tannins and bright acidity as a backbone for all the red juicy flavors.

I enjoyed this wine with fresh figs, syrupy aged balsamic, and homemade ricotta on crostini. I’d also recommend it with seared duck breast, roasted leg of lamb, grilled bison, or other simple but flavorful meats. For the vegetarians, think hearty fall grain bowls and roasted winter squashes (natural sweetness only).

The Verdict

At at least $55/bottle retail, and worth every cent, this is a wine I will definitely hold for a special weekend dinner with someone I love. I enjoyed this wine at my favorite wine bar in NYC, Corkbuzz (there are two, I went to the one in Chelsea Market). When you want to taste wines that are out of your price range for a full bottle, but you still MUST try – make friends with the somm at a reputable friendly wine bar or scout LocalWineEvents.com for tastings in your area so you can try before you buy.

 

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com

 

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My New Favorite Extra Brut Champagne? Jeeper Cuvee Naturelle

The Wine of the Week: Jeeper

by Annette Tomei

NV Maison Jeeper, Grande Cuvée Naturelle Extra Brut, Champagne, FranceNV Maison Jeeper, Grande Cuvée Naturelle Extra Brut

Great Story, Better Wine

Maison Jeeper was founded in 1949, just after World War II by Armand Gourtobe. M. Gourtobe came from a a family of high-quality Champagne producers. Read more

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White Wine on Tap–Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine of the Week: Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc

by Annette Tomei

2016 Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc (3L), Chilegreat white wine on tap from Bota Box | EatSomethingSexy.com

Box wine – aka bag-in-a-box, cardbordeaux, chateauneuf du box, goon (if in Australia). Whatever you call it, the bad rap is totally unfounded (but you knew that already, right?).

Basically, the bag-in-the-box is the most reliable and economical way to preserve the integrity of wine from transport, to storage, to service.  And, as the market for “premium” boxed wines grows, Bota Box is one of the top-rated products on the market.

So, I had to give it a taste.

Guilt-free Convenience

I, like the majority of city-dwellers, live alone. I also believe in being as environmentally conscious as a city-dweller can be. Let’s add that I am quite fond of having a glass of wine at the end of a long day (with a delicious healthy meal!). I am on a tight budget, and hate to waste good wine. Hence, my long-held esteem for the bag in the box.

The great news – with Bota Box (and a few others) those bags are now BPA-free plastic, and 100% recyclable, as are the boxes. A 3-liter box contains the equivalent of four 750-ml bottles, and it weighs significantly less. The box takes up much less space in my too-full refrigerator, and it keeps my daily pour fresh (no damage from light or air) for at least a month.

But, more importantly, how does it taste?

About this Wine

At first approach, aromas of ripe pear and melon were accompanied by the fresh pungent green of chopped cilantro. These faded to basic, but pleasant, aromas of zesty citrus. On the palate, there is more body than I expected – full and round juiciness, with flavors of astringent grapefruit, ripe honeydew melon, and a touch of minerality.

I recommend you pour small amounts directly from the fridge so it stays cold in your glass – this wine is most enjoyable ice cold. Once it warms it loses some of its liveliness, but remains enjoyable.

Though perfectly good on its own, this wine is a good match for hummus and veggies, falafel sandwiches, grilled chicken fajitas, and similar fare.

The Verdict

I’d rate this as a $8-$9/bottle wine. For approximately $25 for 3-liters (the equivalent of 4 bottles), it’s like buying three and getting one free – a great deal. Bota Box also makes four other whites, eight reds (varietal and blends), and a dry rosé. I’ve heard good things about the Riesling, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Merlot, though I’ve not tried them personally. The rest are not as highly recommended.

 

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com

 

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Macari Syrah – a Rare Find on the North Fork of Long Island

The Wine of the Week: Macari Syrah

by Annette Tomei

2014 Macari Syrah, North Fork AVA, Mattituck, NY, USA

Syrah – a Rare Find on Long Island

The Syrah grape, also known as Shiraz, is most common in the Rhone Valley of France and eastern Australia. It thrives in the most challenging soil conditions and climates, and requires hot weather to ripen evenly. Read more