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Posts Tagged ‘Sparkling Wine’

You Have to Start Somewhere

As the saying goes, “everyone has to start somewhere.”  This past Friday, after a long week of absolutely gorgeous weather here on the Eastern Seaboard, I was thinking that this would be a great way to officially start the weekend: 

Living lovely on the deck.

I do have to say, I love…LOVES me some caviar!!  Now, now… I know what you’re thinking, but to be completely honest with you, this is just some tasty and cheap roe that gets the job done for my tuna fish wallet.

This simple slice of Icelandic heaven consists:

  • Table Water Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cheap Caviar
  • Add in some fresh mozzarella balls on the side, and you’ve got yourself a Friday night party on the deck!

To celebrate this beautiful Eastern Spring evening and appetizer, I thought I’d lock lips with a few east coast sparklers:  two exquisite bottles of bubbly from New York’s Dr. Frank Wine Cellars.

Pioneered by Dr. Konstantin Frank, this Finger Lakes winery has earned a reputation for producing outstanding Rieslings and sparkling wines that adhere to the classic French “methode champenoise.” 

The first was the Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs (2006) (Sample, MSRP:  $29.99 US).

This sparkling wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and was aged for more than three years before its release.  When my wife and I released it into our glasses this past Friday night, it was like a fruit pie being swept up into a twister of teeny-tiny bubbles:  rich and toasty with notes of pear and ginger.  Absolutely delicious from start to finish!  Highly recommended with a little (or a lot) of my little caviar snack!  4 Stars out of 4 for the Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.

Our second sparkler was the Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé (NV) (Sample, MSRP:  $20.99 US).

Unlike the rich, big mouthful style of the Blanc de Blancs, this bubbly is more of an easy-going deck wine to enjoy with family and friends.  Made with 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes, it offers an orchard of raspberries and strawberries for those that prefer a sweeter style sparkler.  By the second glass, we were longing for a giant piece of pan-seared salmon to go with it!  3 out of 4 for Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé (NV).

If only every weekend could start out this way!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 21

Hallelujah…we’re finally done our Christmas shopping!!  Wrapping those little buggers will be a whole different story…but that can wait until tomorrow!  Tonight’s post is about celebrating life’s small achievements – NOW!  On the 21st day of this Christmas countdown, what better way to end a nightmare day of standing in long lines, sitting in slow moving traffic, and having no damn place to park, than with some BUBBLY and your honey!

Woohoo!  Pop those corks, baby!!

Last night, we decided to celebrate the Tuesday before Christmas.  Why, you ask?  Why not, I say!

To ring in the New Day, I decided to pop open two badass sparklers from California:  the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (Sample, MSRP:  $20) and the Mumm Napa Brut Rose (Sample, MSRP:  $20).  But wait…we need dinner too!

One of my favorite combinations of flavors is Sparkling wine and any foods that have an Asian flare.   I find that the wide range of spiciness, sweetness and textures of Asian-infused dishes, or even some Chinese takeout, really complement a refreshing glass of bubbly.  Each play well with one another and nobody is starving for attention.

In preparation for the gluttony to come in the next week, I decided to keep things clean, simple and light by preparing a tossed salad with a little twist to have with the sparkling wines:

  • 1 Part Trader Joe’s “Champs Elysées Salad” *Green leaf lettuce, frisee, radicchio and carrots mixture 
  • 1 Part Spring Mix Salad
  • A sprinkle of fully-cooked lentils (Also from Trader Joe’s)
  • Diced salad beets (Also from Trader Joe’s)
  • A sprinkle of chopped walnuts
  • A sprinkle of crumbled bleu cheese
  • Drizzle with Trader Joe’s Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige was absolutely brilliant!  An assemblage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, it’s crisp and refreshing with flavors of pear, fig and sweet spices, enveloped by creamy vanilla.  This sparkler is fruity, spicy and delicious!

My favorite with the salad, though, was the Mumm Napa Brut Rose.

This bubbly, made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay – with its fresh and lively strawberry and zippy flavors – played terrifically off the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette, beets and lentils in the salad,

Cheers to celebrating EVERY day!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 14

Cookies.  I have a confession to make:  Ummm… well, you see, I’ve been eating lots of them ever since they came out of the oven…like 10 at a time to be exact.  But who’s counting…right?  One look at these mouthwatering beauties and you’ll see why I’ve lost complete self-control, and understand why there are no measures to curb or ration my daily intake.

We’ve got snickerdoodle cookies, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin with cranberries and walnuts cookies, and cookies called “Cranberry Gems” that have craisins and white chocolate chips in it.  We also have “Peanut Butter Blossoms” – they’re the ones with the Hershey Kiss on top, and the world’s greatest chocolate-chip cookie known to mankind.  Rounding out the bunch is the ever so dangerous, melt in your mouth, can’t stop with one, “Raspberry Jam Thumbprint.”

Last night, as I was making myself a little (okay, it was more than a few…don’t judge!) plate of cookies for a late-night snack, I thought to myself, “I wonder what wine would go best with this cookie, or this cookie, or that cookie.”  I thought, what the heck, let’s do it!  So I grabbed six different wines to see if any would be a match made in confection heaven with these cookies.

Here’s a list of the wines that I pulled out:

  • Domaine Du Margalleau Sparkling Vouvray NV (>$20) – This sparkler comes from France’s Loire Valley and is made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes.  It’s like a dry brut, just with the delicious sweetness of Chenin floating around, with a slight flintiness to round out a very well balanced and exceptional wine.  Highly recommend.
  • 2008 Rabbit Ridge Viognier from Paso Robles, CA.  (>$10) – Wow!  What a steal @ less than 10 dollars a bottle.  Not overpowering in the least.  Made with estate grown fruit, this California Viognier is bright, lush and extremely well-balanced for an $8 wine.
  • 2010 Annabella Special Edition Chardonnay from Michael Pozzan Winery (>$15) – Total production on 100% Napa Valley Chard is only 8,900 cases.  It’s smokin’ hot with a balance of lemon, pineapple, fig and slight vanilla undertones.  Not at all an in-your-face vanilla/oak Chardonnay so commonly found in California:  maybe because it’s only 35% barrel fermented in 100% French oak.  Whatever it is, this is a delicious California Chardonnay and an outstanding value.
  • 2009 Chad ‘Red Hills Lake County’ Cabernet Sauvignon (>$20) – I’ve tasted wines from Chad before that I thought were scorching values, but my first impression of this ’09 Cab had me thinking otherwise.  I found the cherry component in this Cali Cab to be way over the top which made it overly sweet; taking away from any other ingredients that might have been swimming around inside.  But hey, that doesn’t mean that it won’t pair nicely with my plate of cookies!
  • 2008 Three Old Vines Zinfandel (>$20) – This is a steal at less than $20 a bottle.  Bursting with bright red berries and spices, with just a touch of earthiness – this red Zin goes down smooth and leaves you panting for more.
  • 2006 Small Gully ‘The Formula’ Robert’s Shiraz (>$20) – This is one whopping, badass Aussie Shiraz, made from 40 year vines, that reveals dark black fruit and chocolate notes while not burning the rubber off the tires with its dizzying 15.9% alcohol content.   

I asked my wife if she’d care to assist in determining if any of these wines would pair well with her delicious homemade Christmas cookies.  She said, “The last thing my ass needs right now is another damn cookie, but…I will try the wine.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

As I tasted through this bounty of homemade cookies and wine, there was one wine that hit a grand slam with the cookie plate:  that wine was the Domaine Du Margalleau Sparkling Vouvray NV (>$20).  It danced and sang with all of them except the Peanut Butter Blossoms and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie of all time.  I would have thought going into this tasting that the red wines would’ve done particularly well – especially with the cookies having chocolate and/or peanut butter in them, but sadly it wasn’t a match made in heaven.  Only the Shiraz played nicely with the gingerbread cookies and the Cranberry Gems.  Oddly enough, the 2010 Annabella Special Edition Chardonnay was a good match for the chocolate chip cookies and the 2008 Rabbit Ridge Viognier was quite tasty with the Peanut Butter Blossoms.  Go figure.  The ’09 Chad Cab, unfortunately, didn’t pair well with anything…maybe it was because I wasn’t diggin’ on it in the first place.

In the end, I must declare the Domaine Du Margalleau Sparkling Vouvray NV the ultimate winner in the 1st Annual(?) WineLIfe365 Cookies and Wine Event.  It sure was a lot of fun trying all of them and now I know which wine to put out for Santa on Christmas Eve!

The Morning After

New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate new beginnings.  So after all the drinking, Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest, and Black Eyed Peas that one can possibly handle in one night, here’s an idea for the morning after that will start your 2011 off on the right foot:  Poached Eggs & Sparkling Wine!

You’ve never poached an egg before?  Don’t sweat it – it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it!  Check out this video and you’ll see just how easy it really is:

For me, the fun part is actually seasoning the poached eggs.  This is one of my favorite ways to serve poached eggs:


For the Sparkler, why not try an Italian Prosecco?  Consider Oriel 365: “Named for the essence of Prosecco – An invitation to celebrate every day!”  Another terrific choice is an affordable Spanish Cava.  For around $10, you can enjoy a Reserva Brut like the Paul Cheneau Blanc de Blanc which is made in the French méthode traditionnelle.  If you like your sparkler with a touch of sweetness, the Valdo Nerello Mascalese Brut Rose also hits the spot with poached eggs.  Enjoy!

Happy New Year…Wishing all of you the best in 2011!

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