Bordeaux The Beautiful!

Bordeaux. This single word conjures up thoughts of some of the most prestigious wine known. Both the business side and the romantic side of wine meet seamlessly in Bordeaux where the largest amount of fine wine in the world is produced.

The Bordeaux wine region is located in southwest France and surrounds the bordeauxmappicmonkeycity of Bordeaux. Near the city, two rivers, the Garonne and Dordogne, meet to form the Gironde, which flows into the Atlantic. These rivers divide the Bordeaux region into three areas: the Left Bank, the Right Bank and Entre-Deux-Mers in the middle.

The main red grapes for the region are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. To be a “Bordeaux” the wine must have at least two of these grapes blended together. Generally, a blend from the Right Bank will lead with Merlot while the Left Bank showcases Cabernet Sauvignon. Entre-Deux-Mers produces mostly everyday drinking wines featuring Merlot.

Today, Bordeaux style blends are made worldwide. Among the best regions to produce this style is Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley is also home to “Meritage” (pronounced like heritage), which is similar to a Left Bank Bordeaux with Cabernet Sauvignon being the prominent grape. If you have a hefty wine allowance and want a superior Bordeaux style from Napa Valley, splurge on Opus One, a collaborative effort between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

If Opus One isn’t in your budget not to worry. It is fairly easy to find Bordeaux style wine. Most will use the typical Bordeaux grapes and generally Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot will be the predominant varietals. And now you have an excuse to go wine shopping!



Is Red Wine Healthy?

I have read plenty about the health benefits of red wine. In fact, I planned on declaring the praises in this post however, in doing research, it seems most of the testing has been done on mice and pigs. I don’t know about you, but animal research does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  The positive findings are vast though so you be the judge.

In a nutshell, researchers say red wine is good for your heart – more accurately, the nutrients found in the red grape skins used to make red wine. Red wine has antioxidants, known as polyphenols, which can prevent heart disease. Specifically, the polyphenol known as resveratrol has a laundry list of potential benefits including, but not limited to, protecting the heart’s blood vessels, increasing high-density lipoprotein (or HDL, the good cholesterol), decreasing low-density lipoprotein (or LDL, the bad cholesterol), preventing blood clots, reducing the risk of dementia and preventing certain cancer cells from dividing. Resveratrol can also be found in other foods like blueberries, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.

Additional studies (on mice) found that red wine burns fat and can aid in storing less of it by delaying the growth of fat cells and slowing the growth of new ones. Sounds enticing but unfortunately, I don’t think that is a free pass to skip the gym.

Keep in mind, moderation is important. What is moderation? Well that depends on a person’s size, age, sex, etc. Women absorb alcohol more rapidly than men.  A moderate amount for women is roughly 5 ounces and for men, 8 ounces.

With all these studies, you may think red wine sounds like a pretty awesome health partner; it is your decision. As for me, I am going to assume some validity and keep on sipping because, in my book, life without wine is quite simply not very fun.



Jesus & Wine

pouring red wine in glasses

In case you’ve ever doubted your (responsible) wine consumption…

The two beverages Jesus drank were water…….. and wine, red wine specifically.

A small amount of red wine was customarily consumed after dinner to kill bacteria, parasites, etc.

Doesn’t that just make your passion for the red stuff all that more compelling!


Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape – it’s light and soft with aromas of strawberries and cherries.

The bright fruit, bubble gum flavors are enhanced by the process of carbonic maceration (whole berry fermentation).

By law, Beaujolais Nouveau must be released the third Thursday in November of the harvest year.

Beaujolais is a region in Burgundy known for it’s granite and schist soils which enhances the character of the wine – it’s (almost) all about terrior.

The vast majority of Beaujolais Nouveau wine is not age-worthy and is intended to be enjoyed directly upon purchase.

If you haven’t tasted Beaujolais Nouveau, give it a try – it’s light, inexpensive and available for a limited time – once the current vintage runs out, you will not see this wine again until next November.


Official Wines of the Olympics

This Olympics is epic in that it is the first time in history the games have their own official wine.  UK wine merchant Bibendum was given the job of selecting the wines – a white, a rose and a red.   The decision making didn’t come without controversy as the commercial director insisted the wines be from the 2012 vintage to avoid having confusion of the vintage date and 2012 Olympic date both on the bottle.  In addition, since the wines would be available in event areas, they had to be contained in recyclable PET bottles and the alcohol level had to be lower than normal to promote responsible drinking (11.5% instead of around 13%).

To make the deadline, the wines had to be from somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere and the grapes had to be picked early by a couple of weeks.  For the white that meant the potential of too much acidity and green flavors.  To overcome this winemakers fermented the wine with yeast strains from sauvignon blanc to enhance the aromatics knowing full well the wine would be drunk soon, age-worthiness not being a factor.

So what wines made the cut?  The white and rose are from Stellenrust, the largest Fair-trade wine estate in South Africa located in the oldest, most respected region of Stellenbosch.  The white is a Chenin Blanc that is easy drinking with tropical notes and just a hint of acidity.  The rose is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot.

The red is from Seival Estate in Brazil, a nod to the 2016 Olympics.  It’s a blend of Shiraz and Tempranillo with a dash of Gamay Nouveau to keep the otherwise earthy wine vibrant and lively.

If I were lucky enough to be at the Olympics, I’d have the white while watching beach volleyball, the rose while watching swimming and the red while cheering on the gymnasts.

Go Team USA!


Altovinum Evodia – Great Everyday Drinking Wine

On the suggestion of the knowledgable employee at one of my favorite wine stores, I bought a bottle of 2010 Altovinum Evodia to fill out my 6 pack so I could get the 10% discount.  What a score at only $7.99 a bottle!  I went back the next day and bought 6 more bottles.

This wine is made of 100% old vine garnacha (grenache) in the Denominacion de Origen Calatayud region of Spain.  Calatayud is known for having the highest elevation vineyards in Spain and schiste soil which is known for bringing unique characteristics to the wine.

Tasting notes:  ripe dark berries – blueberry, blackberry, mocha, licorice, earthy minerals, spicy with some smoke.  Nice medium to full body, good tannin balance and a very long finish.

So let this be a lesson for us all.  Hopefully the only people you’ll find working at your wine store are people who have a passion for their job (if not, walk away) and whose advice you can confidently take.  If the store is worth anything, the employees will have a good knowledge of the inventory and have tasted most if not all the wines on the shelves.  I know the day I open the doors of my wine shop, you can be assured everyone working there will know the wines and love their job (and hopefully their boss).





A beautiful Spanish red!

I just got off medication that required 10 days of abstinence from wine – wow was that hard!  I don’t practice lent but if I did, I now know I wouldn’t give up wine.  To add salt to the wound, my birthday occurred during those 10 days!

This weekend celebrated the end of my meds!  I’m sure almost any wine would’ve tasted good but the wine I drank seemed utterly exquisite.  I have a hunch that even if it wasn’t my first time to sip vino after “doctor’s orders”  that this wine still would’ve settled me into a dreamy state of mind.

So stop babbling and give you the dirt, right?  The wine was “Black Slate” Porrera Vi de la Vila, Priorat D.O.Q., 2008.  This wine hails from the famous Priorat region in Spain known for it’s unique llicorella soil, a dark brown slate with quarzite adding a “mineral-laden essence”* to the wine.  The wine is a blend of 60% garnacha (grenache) and 40% carinena with dark fruit, spice, mineral and chocolate flavors.  It has a bit of smokiness due to aging 12 months in French oak and finishes smooth like a sultry women in a long, glitzing evening gown.  I especially noticed the wine taking on black cherry flavors as I finished it with a slice of dark chocolate birthday cake that had somehow managed to still be available for consumption.

I purchased this wine on a whim, at first, getting sucked in by the “cool” label.  I hate to admit it but I’m a sucker for good marketing and artsy labels.  Secondly, I was drawn to it because it came from Priorat which is well known for outstanding wine.  I’m happy to say not only did this wine not disappoint but at the reasonable price of about $17 a bottle, it will probably be purchased by the case the next time I’m in the store who so wisely chose to stock this remarkable wine.

*Source:  The World Atlas of Wine, sixth edition, Octopus Publishing group, Ltd., London UK 2007


Inspiration for the Day

It’s Saturday morning.  I’m sitting on my lanai enjoying the peacefulness of birds chirping (a lawn mower :{ ) and a great cup of coffee made by my husband.  I’m casually flipping through the March 2012 issue of my “Food & Wine” magazine when I settle on an article called “In Praise of Powerful Cabernets” by Ray Isle.  I love what he says toward the end of the article and wanted to share with you….


“It (Cabernet) may be hard to pair with some foods, but it sure goes great with life.”

Enjoy your day….and your next bottle of Cabernet.