New Year – New Me????

Well, 2014 is upon us and after much discretion at the end of 2013, I quit my job and decided to go back to school. *eeeeeekkkkk*

It’s a daunting task…taking everything you’re comfortable with (most importantly a steady income) and taking a gamble on going back to school, but for me…this was a *good* thing. I am studying Hospitality Business Management currently and am hoping to add the Wine Business portion of my school’s (Washington State University) program to my degree. And I am secretly hoping that this blog puts me a step ahead of my classmates, too.

Now, I am not going to get technical with anything on this blog. Heck no. I’m still going to be unfiltered, sometimes unrefined and give honest opinions on the wines I review (both the ones that I purchase and the ones that are sent to me as samples).

And my schedule is currently set up so that I can take weekend trips to wine country without having to worry about missing anything. Now, that could change come fall, but I’m still going to make the most of the time I do have available.

So with that said…here are the plans for 2014 around the World HQ:

- WBC 14 in Santa Barbara – July 10-13
- IFBC 14 in Seattle – Sept. 19-21
- Day & weekend trips to Washington & Oregon wine country (of course)
- Possibly a job within the wine industry???????? (One can hope…)

This year will be interesting, that’s for certain. I am looking forward to the adventure and hope that you stick around, too!!

My current favorite picture...taken on the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon on 1/17/14

My current favorite picture…taken on the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon on 1/17/14

Selections from “The International Wine of the Month” Club

Around WBC time, I was contacted about reviewing selections from the International Wine of the Month Club.

The International Wine of the Month Club is part of a larger group, Monthly Clubs, that also does beer, chocolate, flowers, cheese and cigars. Or, if you’re a fan of mixing and matching, they have a “Design Your Own Club” option.

I received two wines, both of which are from California: the 2010 Girard Russian River Chardonnay and the 2006 Pietra Santa Cienega Valley Estate Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.

2010 Girard Chardonnay

2010 Girard Chardonnay

The 2010 Girard Chardonnay is a wine that could make the “ABC” (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd turn an about face. This wine is balanced, yet complex. On the nose, there’s a nice, citrusy fruit note, with hints of oak and spice. These flavors also carry over to the palate and are complemented by a nice buttery note (think about buttered popcorn with additional flavorings of your choosing…the butter complements the flavors and doesn’t overpower them).

The recommended food pairing is salmon, and while I can certainly see this as an option, I’d be more inclined to serve this with chicken or a pasta with a buttery cream sauce.

2006 Pietra Santa Cienega Valley Estate Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Pietra Santa Cienega Valley Estate Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2006 Pietra Santa Cienega Valley Estate Signature Collection Cabernet rocked my socks off. This spent 45 months in the barrel…and damn…it delivers. Silky smooth. Sexy. This wine is well structured with a nose of dark fruit and spice. The palate adds hints of chocolate and pomegranate to the dark fruit and spice.

The recommended food pairing for this is Pan Seared Duck Breast, but dammit…this wine begs for a nice, thick, juicy steak, IMHO.

Both of these wines rank high on my “recommended” list. Do it. Seriously. Get them.

A Triple Header – 3 Wines from winechateau.com

I was presented the opportunity to taste some wine from Wine Chateau, a retailer with both a brick-and-mortar presence in Metchuen, NJ & South River, NJ and an online storefront as well. I was sent three wines, an Italian Cab/Merlot blend, a California Cabernet Sauvignon and a California Pinot Noir.

The wines from winechatau.com

The wines from winechateau.com

The first wine was the Ca de Rocchi Cab/Merlot blend from Italy. This is a 50/50 blend that is *very* easy to drink. On the nose, there’s fig and cocoa. The fig carries into the palate, but there’s also dark fruits and cassis on there. My note on this reads “Recommendation: stormy night, warm fire, cozy blanket, good book”. And it’s true. This is a wine to curl up with.

Ca d Rocchi Dugal Cab/Merlot blend

Ca de Rocchi Dugal Cab/Merlot blend

Next up was the 2008 William Hill Bench Blend Cabernet. This had tons of different flavors & aromas going on in the nose. Strawberry. Chocolate. Herbal notes. Blueberry. It was a magnificent wine. The chocolate carried over on the palate, which gave way to a lovely mix of dark fruit. It was silky and beautiful. My recommendation on this? Your favorite movie and a bottle of this. Seriously.

2008 William Hill Bench Blend Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 William Hill Bench Blend Cabernet Sauvignon

Last was the 2011 Murphy Goode Pinot Noir. Now, mind you, I’m a Pinot lover and live a hop, skip and jump from the heart of Oregon’s Pinot country, so I’ve been exposed to some really kick-ass Pinot Noir. I was actually excited to try a California Pinot. This didn’t disappoint (even though I found out while researching for this post that there’s 5% Syrah in there). There was a lovely black cherry and sage nose, that carried through to the palate. The Syrah added a bit of kick (which I actually appreciated).

I tried this after having a lovely conversation over lunch with my dear friend Lidia (who’s blog you can find in my blogroll under “Nubian”) about the 2011 Oregon Pinots and how we both really hadn’t found one that knocked our socks off. This one…yeah. It’s totally ready to drink. It just goes to show how different each area can be. :)

2011 Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir

2011 Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir

All three of these are definitely wines to consider if you see them hanging out on the shelf at your local wine shop/grocery store/liquor store.

~*~*~BOOK REVIEW~*~*~ “The Exes In My iPod: A Playlist of Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country”

Alright ladies and gents, we *all* have that one playlist in our iTunes collections that’s dedicated to certain people who have broken us, beat us down and made us stronger. Am I right or AM I FREAKIN’ RIGHT?! I have a couple…”The Whorebitch is Going Down” is my personal favorite, just because of who it’s dedicated to. Just an FYI, don’t ever think you can get away with not only using my best friend/partner in crime/sister from another mister/world domination partner, but also dragging me into the fold with your snide comments about being a lowlife…It will not end well for you. (Mental note…must set that playlist back up on my laptop since my desktop crashed and burned).

This book, by Lisa Mattson, who those of us in the blogging world know as the Director of Marketing Communications for Jordan Winery and the brilliant mind behind their award-winning blog, The Journey of Jordan, is hands down one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

The book is loosely based on Lisa’s own journey from humble beginnings in life, to college, to where she is now. In fact, she states on the book’s website that it was meant to be a memoir, but it was converted into a work of fiction.

Harley Aberle is the female lead in this story. While I was reading this, I saw shades of myself in Harley. The losers…the liars…the all-around scumbags…all while convincing everyone they have a good side. Yup. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Harley is one of those girls who you can’t help but relate with, because we’ve all been there.

There are ups and downs in this book, just as any good book would have. You can sense some of the twists and turns as your reading, but others just make you want to scream.

This should be on every female’s reading list, in all honesty. You’ll see yourself reflected in Harley, especially if you’re like myself and have not-so-nice nicknames for your exes. Or have repeatedly called your ex a dumbass in every fifth text (<—— true story). And this should be read also by teenaged girls after a bad break up to show, "Hey, just because he's an asshole doesn't mean you can't achieve your dreams."

Currently, The Exes in My iPod is available for Apple devices through iBookstore and the Kindle through Amazon.com. At $4.99 for whichever device is of your liking, it is *well* worth giving up a Starbucks drink for a day!! Buy it, curl up with a good glass of wine and enjoy a blustery fall day inside!!

Disclaimer: I was provided a free, advance copy of The Exes in My iPod: A Playlist of Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country to provide feedback and review by the author, Lisa Mattson.

2012 Finger Lakes Riesling Hour

On Sept. 28, I was given the opportunity to participate in a live tasting of the new release Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of New York State during their annual Riesling Hour.

The Finger Lakes region is characterized by the lakes retaining the summer heat and the winter cold. Due to this microclimate that’s created, the grapes are protected from the early first frosts and they have a moderate climate throughout the year to grow.

The wines I’ve experienced from the Finger Lakes region have always been beautiful, aromatic wines and the Riesling Hour wines didn’t disappoint. From wet stone minerality to muted peach & tropical fruit notes, these wines were amazing. All of the vintages were 2012.

The four I received were:

The Four

The Four

Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling
Rooster Hill Vineyards Riesling – Dry
Lamoreaux Landing Riesling
Red Newt Cellars “Circle” Riesling

By far, my favorite was the Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling. There was a nice wet stone minerality, with hints of citrus on the nose. The acidic quality also came through on the nose. The palate was full and lush with tart green apples, lemons and the wet stone again. I enjoyed this and paired it with maple-mustard glazed Salmon. The sweet/savory mix was HEAVENLY!!!

My favorite!!!

My favorite!!!

My other favorite from this tasting was the Lamoreaux Landing. I paired it with local chèvre and bagel chips. The citrus & minerality paired well with the tangy chèvre.

Pairs well with chèvre & bagel chips

Pairs well with chèvre & bagel chips

The other two, while tasty, just didn’t seem to hit a home run with me. The Red Newt “Circle” had an odd apple/pear combination that I couldn’t quite get into and the Rooster Hill just seemed like a run-of-the-mill (albeit run-of-the-mill that’s worth the attention) Riesling to me. Of course, your tastebuds will vary from mine, so I encourage you to try these when you get a chance.

Rooster Hill Vineyards Riesling - Dry

Rooster Hill Vineyards Riesling – Dry

Red Newt Cellars "Circle" Riesling

Red Newt Cellars “Circle” Riesling

Disclaimer: These wines were provided as media samples from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Drinking For A Cause – Sozo Wines

Allow me to preface this post with an apology…after a fantastic summer, from the middle of August until about now, my life has pretty much been one crazy, wild, hot mess of a ride that is worthy of being filed away in the “Fuhgeddabit” file…and I do apologize…

Sozo:  to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction.

Are you familiar with this word?  I wasn’t until I was at the The Craft Winefest in Vancouver, WA back in June. How did I become familiar with the word? Well, I happened to stumble upon a winery with that very name.

Their mission? To provide basic needs to those who are most vulnerable. Yes. Provide food, water and safety to those who need it most. Not only to third world countries, where most assistance goes, but to those in our backyard who are currently struggling.

Which is awesome, if you ask me. When I was a youth ministry volunteer, my church was one of the founding churches for a mission week called “Backyard Ministries”, where youth served those in need of help in their own backyards. So needless to say, the mission of Sozo Wines really hit a chord with me.

What about the wines, you ask? Well, they’re nothing short of amazing. The grapes are sourced from various areas throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley and are meticulously blended (for the reds, at least) until the perfect balance is achieved.

Sozo’s wine names tell you just how passionate they are to their cause. Abundant. Bountiful. Charity. Compassion. Contribute. Generosity. Humanity. Potential.

My personal favorite is the Compassion Chardonnay. It’s crisp, clean with hints of oak, apple and tropical fruits. It’s a wine that deserves to be shared amongst friends. And with each bottle supporting anywhere from 5-40 people who lack basic needs? Yeah. I’m there. Especially if I can change lives in my own backyard.

The Sozo Wines Red Lineup

Now, there’s something really cool when you sign up for their wine club…not only do you get a bottle of wine, but you can also get a 5 oz bag of coffee and some chocolates. Coffee? Chocolate? Yeahhhh…I’m pretty sure my personal trainer will kick my ass even more than he already does if he finds out that I have a hidden stash of chocolate. Heehee.

Sozo Friends Wine Club Starter Pack

I recommend every single Sozo wine that I’ve tried (the Compassion Chardonnay, Charity Red Wine, Contribute Cabernet Sauvignon and Bountiful Red Wine). So please, run, don’t walk, for these wines if you see them in the shop or restaurant you happen to be patronizing. Do it. Seriously. You’ll get the warm fuzzies. :)

2011 Milbrandt Traditions Rose… #wbw80

You’ve had a long day. A very long day. In fact, you’ve had one of those days where you tell your supervisor “I just want to go home and drink wine straight out of the bottle,” when they come to help you with something.  (FYI:  Mine happened to chuckle when I said this because he was having the same kind of day…lol).

Yup. That’s how *this* blogger’s day at work was like. But, I knew that today was Wine Blogging Wednesday (AKA WBW) and I had some delicious, crisp rosé’s waiting for me in my fridge. :)

Out of the rosé’s I had placed in my fridge last night, I picked one for the ease of convenience. Meaning, I picked the one with the screwcap! After a rough day at the office, who wants to fight with a freakin’ corkscrew?!?

2011 Milbrandt Traditions Rosé

2011 Milbrandt Traditions Rosé

Milbrandt Vineyards is located in Prosser, WA. Farming is something that comes naturally to the Milbrandt family. So, one day in 1997, brothers Butch and Jerry decided that they were going to start growing grapes in what is now known as the Wahluke Slope AVA.  They started as growers, selling to some of the most well-known wineries in Washington and then, in 2005, the decision was made to start their own winery, which fully came to fruition in 2007.

I was first introduced to Milbrandt during the speed tasting at WBC 12 in Portland. Their Malbec knocked my socks off. And quality Washington wines that sell for less than, for the most part, $25 from their Estate Series and the Traditions series being less than $17?!?! I’m there!!

The 2011 Rosé is a lovely blend of Syrah, Grenache and Viognier. On the nose, there’s notes of strawberries, raspberries and tart cherries. These notes carry through to the palate, and the Viognier helps give it that hint of sweetness.

This wine is a perfect pairing for most any food. I personally paired it with pot roast and it was a lovely pairing. The tasting notes from Milbrandt’s website suggest the tart pairing that’s included on the back tear-off label.

Whoever invented these tear-off back labels is a GENIUS!!

Whoever invented these tear-off back labels is a GENIUS!!

I can’t wait to find the 2012 in the stores, personally, as I find this to be one of those wines that will consistently be a go-to.  Annnnnd, the 2012 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec.  So it’ll be a completely different profile than the 2011!  :)