Joya Red & White Sangria

24 Aug

Joya Sangria, La Puebla de Almoradiel, Spain. 12%ABV, $12.95/bottle MSRP. Samples provided by Aaron Kendall, CSS, Innovative Marketing LLC

The red is a blend of tempranillo, garnacha, and bobal grapes. This classic Spanish drink is actually purple in color and features a nose of sweet black cherry and boysenberry, those flavors carrying through the palate and the finish. If made per the directions, “Just Add Ice, Garnish with Fruit” it is indeed a fun adult beverage. I tried the wine (incorrectly) first alone and found it full of bright red fruit but cloyingly sweet. Yet with a few ice cubes, a squeeze of lime and a tiny slice of apple, I was pleasantly surprised as the sweetness melted under the acidity and the sangria felt familiar and enjoyably relaxing, like the sun on the Mediterranean sea.

Made from the Airén grape, Joya White Sangria’s color is pale straw with a light green tinge. The delicate nose offers a hint of pear and honey. In the mouth, stone fruit- young pear and tart green apple blend with gentle acidity for a pleasing sensation. it features a medium finish; fruit lingering on the back palate.

Both these wines would be perfectly at home in the backyard during a warm afternoon or accompanying tapas. While I’ve not previously sought out sangria, I think these wines will offer welcome opportunities for the adventurous wine lovers who long for a bit of Spain in their hearts and on their palates, or those who wish to entertain with something different- and this might be the perfect pour.


à votre santé!

Rosé, Rosé, Rosé! (and…Rosé!)

13 Aug

I love sharing off-the-beaten-path wines that you should not miss. While I love the pink wines of Provence, that is not the only rosé region in the game. Here are four rosé wines you will enjoy in varying styles and flavors!


Château D’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2013, Rhône, France. 14%ABV, $18-20/bottle online.

A lovely cerise pink in color, nose of watermelon and fresh cut grass. In the mouth,  gentle strawberry and raspberry cross the palate and meld into red plum and young cassis. Medium finish with notes of calcium, sodium and clay. A delightful, aromatic, and complex rosé not only for the summer months, this could play a lighter foil to the stunning Napa rosé I serve at Thanksgiving.

Tavel Rose


Renegade Wine Company Columbia Valley Rosé 2014, WA, USA. 11.3%ABV, $14-16 online.

Pale salmon in color with a subtle summer garden bouquet, watermelon and strawberry fill the mouth with just a hint of sweetness in the background, but no sugar. Renegade indeed! Crisp and a clean finish, the wine is unexpectedly tasty and a real surprise at how much fun it is to enjoy.



Les Hauts de Smith Rosé 2014, Bordeaux, France.  13% ABV; $17/bottle.

Coral in color, the nose offers rose bush and dried figs. In the mouth, muted red fruits, perfect acidity, mid-palate tannins and a mineral backbone show refined, classic winemaking. This is an under $20 rosé that compares beautifully to wines two and three times the price- as subtle as it is, I did not want to put down the glass.

LesHauts Rose



Antorini Tenuta Guardo Al Tasso Scalabrone Rosé 2014, Bolgheri, Italy. ABV 12.5%;  $18-26 online.

Nose of ripe white peaches, with delicate red fruit on the palate. Clean finish. Balanced acidity, a refined and subtle wine. Delicately complex, flexible to be able to handle many chores. When I served this to a group to was the wine people were reserved about initially and gravitated to later, enjoying it more with food and as the night progressed. It is a keeper.



What’s your favorite rosé?

à votre santé!

Hugel & Fils Riesling 2011

9 Aug

Hugel & Fils Riesling 2011. Riquewihr, (Alsace) France. 12.5%ABV, $20/bottle, street.

In the realm of riesling, Hugel has been doing it since 1639, and it shows. A color of pale straw with excellent translucence. Wildflowers, honeysuckle, and a hint of petroleum on the nose. Muted fruit on the front palate: apricot, granny smith apple, and white pear. Terrific acidity follows- this wine is bone dry, upper palate showing notes of walnut, shale and schist while the back palate had notes of ginger root, allspice, lemon zest and flint. SO much is going on in this wine! I served this at a dinner with baked salmon and a mushroom quiche as the entrees and was worried it might be overpowered, but had no reason to fear- it cut through the palate easily, stood up to the strong flavors of the fish and mushrooms and was an ideal complement for the meal, and continued on through my niece’s birthday cake and fruit compote for dessert. If you want a perfectly dry riesling that sings of delicate fruit, minerals and spice without a hint of sweetness for $20, this is a great choice- I may have to start stocking it in my cellar.



What’s in your glass?

à votre santé!

Wine from WHERE? Indiana?

6 Aug

Indiana. A buddy of mine sent me wine from Indiana. I was amused, even a little shocked. But hey, WHY NOT? I cracked these open and tasted them over a week. As you can see, I didn’t refuse to review them, so they passed the drinkability test! Read on, dear oenophiles:


Monkey Hollow Winery Chambourcin 2013, MSRP $18/bottle.

Color is violet with clear edging. Nose of bright red fruit and rose bush. In the mouth: cherry cola, blackberry, and green vegetation up front. There is powerful acidity in the mid-palate that makes this wine feel both more tannic and sweeter than it actually is. Notes of pencil shavings and more intense blackberry show predominantly on the medium finish. I’m fascinated by this, because Chambourcin is traditionally a dry red with intense color and flavor and I found this less dry and less intense, but very interesting to drink, pairing this wine nicely with steak, pasta, pizza, and asian stir-fry.


Monkey Hollow Winery Traminette 2014, MSRP $20/bottle.

Dark straw with medium opacity in color. A fragrant nose of honey, citrus fruit and wildflowers, in the mouth it immediately tastes like a midwestern cousin to gewürztraminer (which of course the grape actually is) lychee and apricot dominating the front palate with notes of delicate spice -candied ginger, cinnamon sugar, vanilla bean- on the finish. Over the course of a week, the apricot became more dominant but the wine stayed fresh and enjoyable ands paired easily with light flavors, as an apéritif or with chicken, salad, and delicate cheeses.


Monkey Hollow Wines are made in Saint Meinrad, Indiana which is closest to Santa Claus, Indiana. That’s about sixty miles from Evansville, IN, which has brutally hot summers and cold, windy winters. I know that because I lived there for three years.

(Alcohol by volume not listed on the Money Hollow Wines bottles or their website.)

à votre santé!

Savigny Les Beaune

28 Jul

Simon Bize & Fils’ Savigny Les Beaune Aux Grands Liards 2009. Burgundy, France. Approx $40/bottle online, 12.5% ABV

Savigny Les Beaune

The color is vibrant ruby with violet edges. The floral nose is a delight of flowering blossoms and herbs, giving way to red fruit. In the mouth, a delicate balance of strawberry, cherry, red plum is met by bracing acidity and muted tannin. A delightful if not textbook Burgundy, I was unable to wait another year to drink this beauty which will undoubtedly improve with a few more seasons. Nevertheless, I couldn’t restrain myself and made a menu to pair.

We started with a caprese salad and toasted Italian bread, with a bottle of German grower Sparkling Wine: Elbling Sekt (NV) by Hild.











The main course was a duo of salmon and sesame-encusted tuna steak.

salmon sesame encrustred tuna








Sides were basil couscous (right) and a vegetable mix of snow peas, red & yellow peppers, corn, and tomato sautéed in Jaques Puffeney’s Savagnin 2011 (left).

veg basil couscous









The final course was grilled peaches with vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla ice cream and a drop of Blis bourbon syrup on top.

grilled peaches


But the star of the meal and the evening was undoubtedly the wine.


Whats in your glass?

Les Tois

à votre santé!


Château Bonnet Bordeaux Blanc 2013

26 Jul

André Lurton’s Château Bonnet Blanc 2013. Bordeaux, France. Internet from $12-14/bottle; 12%ABV.

Color is pale straw; the nose is grapefruit, lemon-lime and wildflowers. Flavors of grapefruit dominate the mouth, followed by a hint of sour candy, shale and clay. Tart with a mouth puckering finish with lingering satisfaction. A luscious blend of sauvignon blanc (50%), semillon (40%) and muscadet (10%). Best when served chilled but expressive as the bottle warms. A classic white bordeaux for the sauvignon blanc lover at a great value. With a screw-cap closure, it makes it even easier to keep a bottle in the refrigerator for your next dinner or afternoon sunset.

Chateau Bonnet


à votre santé!

NOT A Tasting!

22 Jul

Last night I attended a celebratory picnic dinner.

If you don’t know, I make my living in entertainment. Yesterday was my last day on a tremendously large project that makes the Bonnarroo Festival look like kindergarten. The picnic was a small gathering of key people involved in the project. Everyone’s eyes exhibited the cold, thousand-yard stare of soldiers who had survived multiple battles but still felt as if the war hadn’t entirely ended. We had gone shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches, taken bullets for our buddies, and survived. And we needed good food and good drink!

When I was invited to attend, I replied: “I’ll come, but only if I can bring the wine.”  They agreed. In the afternoon before the event, I hit the cellar. I grabbed bottles that I like to drink, bottles I knew intimately, and bottles that would fit in at a cookout.

Upon my arrival, I commandeered a table. With my white and sparkling wines chilling in an orange ice bucket, I laid out bottles I had pulled from the cellar for this evening.

Nota tasting

Many people stopped by for a glass or three.

The first question was always “Are we doing a tasting?”

My answer: “Nope, NOT a tasting. We’re doing a drinking!”

Bottles from left to right:

Pere Mata L’Origen 2009 Cava, Spain

Mata L'origen

Hanz Eifel Riesling Spätlese 2011, Mosel, Germany


Dominique Lafon Bourgogne 2011 White Burgundy, Beaune, France

Hild Elbling Sekt Brut Sparkling, NV Upper Mosel, Germany


Substance 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington


Evening Land La Source 2011 Pinot Noir, Seven Springs Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, WA


Chateau Larteau 2006 Bordeaux Superior, Bordeaux France


Chatea Poitevin 2010 Médoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux, France


Domaine Fayat-Thunevin Pomerol, 2006 Bordeaux


Adelante Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina


Bennett Family “The Reserve” 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Bennett wine purple

Modus Operandi Rocca-Collineta Vineyard Cabernet 2011, Coombsville, Napa Valley

MO Cab

Modus Operandi Vicarious Red Blend 2012, Napa Valley


Chateau Saint Cosme Côtes-du-Rhône, 2013, Gigondas, France

St Cosme

Finca La Mata Tinta Del Pais, 2012, Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Finca la Mata

I really enjoyed the picnic, because as long as the weather held, I was able to relax, suggest and pour wines I know intimately for a lot of people, some of whom I know well, some I barely know and some I didn’t know at all. Most were impressed by the wines, expressing clarity, depth, focus, fruit, strong tannins, or spice. Some people just thought “wows, it tastes really good.” I got some people to taste and drink outside their comfort range, and some people were blown away by wines they didn’t know existed. One person said “This is awful!” and when I insisted they toss the glass and try something else, they admitted to teasing me and said the wine was delicious. (Whew!). And some people swung by the table, drinking their beer or tequila, merely observing, checking out our little ‘NOT a Tasting’

Even before the rain hit and we had to call it a night, it was a very successful evening, and a ton of fun for all!

So. What’s in YOUR glass?  

à votre santé!


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