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Posts Tagged ‘pinot noir’

I love this time of year. Who can resist mulled wine, warm fires, cozy sweaters and cold evenings? Not this girl. The whole season kicked off for me this week. I met a friend at the Southbank Winter Festival on Monday evening where we ate hog roast, drank hot wine (wasn’t really mulled…but they tried) and bought Chrissie presents (for ourselves mainly…).

On Sunday I’m having ten of my closest friends in London over for a Thanksgiving feast-ival. Thanksgiving is all about bringing people together, making a potluck with lots of warm and very fattening food and drinking wine, brandy and really anything else you can get your hands on. My contributions to the feast this year will be hot-pot mulled wine and a warm cheese dish (of some sort…). One of my friends has a smoker (yes, he immediately went out and bought it when he moved to London from Texas a few months back…I don’t think they have a can opener but by goodness they must have a smoker!) so we will have proper Texan smoked ham. Another friend is from South Carolina and will be contributing her families sweet potato dish of deliciousness. Everyone has their favourites.

I’m going to break out a few bottles of my French Burgundy that I picked up during my trip in October. I’m excited to see how it goes with all the gorgeous homemade foods. Mostly I’m just excited about having people I love in my home: dancing, chatting, laughing and preparing ourselves for the silly season ahead. I really do love this time of year.

Recommendations for Thanksgiving wines: 
Prosecco is a must. As I always say – any one will do – just pick dry or extra dry. If you like sweet – an Asti would be gorgeous as an aperitif. I added a dash of port to my sparkling last weekend for my tasting and made it a cocktail – yum! Plus its pretty…

Pinot Noir is always a good bet. Ned Pinot Noir, NZ (£10) is a perfect selection.

Port for dessert is very Thanksgiving. That said, a good Botrytis wine could go brilliantly. This one sounds perfect: A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc (£16)

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I hosted my second wine tasting at my flat yesterday and welcomed an intimate group of lovely new friends into my home. We tried wines from around the world – with personal stories from the group to match! I have posted pictures of the wines below as well as some notes on our reviews. Please excuse the quality of the pictures – my lovely photographer friend, Jackee, is on holiday so I took them myself (yikes!).

What we covered: 
Introduction to tasting & discussion of glassware
Food & wine pairing – don’t overcomplicate it
New world & Old world wines and what some of the differences are
3 basic steps to tasting a wine
Party tricks for tasting and talking about wine (i.e. impress your friends…or just weird them out with your slurping technique!)

Wines we tried: 
Glass of Prosecco DOC, Corte Alta with Elderflower port (from Yorkshire) to start
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011
Gran Vendama Rioja Crianza 2009 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Giesen Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2010
Barista Pinotage, South Africa, 2011 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Taylors Late Bottled Harvest Port, 2006
Finished off with french press coffee w/ Baileys to prep my guests for the cold

Everyone left slightly merry with a lot of laughter which is exactly how I like it.

A few suggestions were made for future tastings which I will be taking on board:
Around the world with one grape – find the same grape from different regions around the world and try them all together.
Sherry is not just your Grandma’s drink – this one I will find more challenging as Sherry is not my favourite but alas, when the crowd wants it the show must go on.

If you want to join in on the fun, sign up for a future tasting or drop me a note.

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If you’ve been hoping to increase your knowledge and awareness of amazing wines this holiday season, make sure to sign up for some upcoming tastings. Spots are still available and cost is either by donation or £10 (until 11th Nov). Its a great way to get a handle of what types of wine will impress your friends and family as well as yourself this holiday season.

For the Nov 17th tasting, so far we have a yummy Port, some gorgeous Bordeaux, a few South African stunners and maybe even a cheeky Bierzo. Sign up today!

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What better time to get up to speed on what wines you like, love and covet than when you are preparing for upcoming festivities with family and friends? There are a million ways to start brushing up on your skills: Head to your local supermarket/wine shop and ask lots of questions (many times they will have tastings available while you browse – just ask), Attend a tasting (lots of places offer tastings – speciality shops, wine shops, liquor stores, etc. Keep your eyes peeled), Talk to your friends (many people have a favorite bottle of wine that they use as their ‘go to’ tipple for any celebration. Ask people you know for suggestions and you may just discover a new gem!).
For my part, I will be hosting, attending and conversing about all things wine in the next two months (have a look at what I’m up to here and sign up if you’re interested). As always, if you want to swap ideas – pull up a chair and let’s chat.

Essentials for any successful holiday: 
Brandy – my favourite is Hennessy VSOP. Top it with a bit of ginger ale for a spritzy buzz or some spicy eggnog for a classic holiday treat
Sparkling wine – the holiday favourite in my household is Prosecco because of its light body, balanced flavour and general yummy-ness (plus it can be enjoyed at any time of day…)
Good, full bodied red wine – this is the absolute must have. I love picking a few favourites each year to share with my family. I am still in the discovery phase for this year’s celebrations and will be using my upcoming tastings to explore a few pre-selected Malbecs, Petit Syrahs, Bordeauxs and Tannats. Stay tuned…

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My two lovely friends got married last Monday in London with 20 of their closest friends from around the world looking on. Our troupe was then shuttled into cabs, whisked away to the Champagne bar at St Pancras station and herded into Coach 15 on the Eurostar bound for Paris. After a quick transfer to the regional station in Paris, we were on our way to Dijon. Hop, skip and a 40 minute drive from Dijon, we entered our home for the next week: Chateau du Tailly, a gorgeous 18th century block of three buildings (all of which could have been individual houses)…

So many stories, such a wonderful week. Ultimately, it was about two people: Joel and Marc whose love brought all of us together for this incredible experience. We wined and dined our way through an awe-inspiring week throughout Puligny, Chassagne, Beaune, Mersault and many more. More updates to follow but will leave you with this for now.

  

The main Chateau and my two lovely friends, Joel and Marc, who hosted us during the week:

My home for the week:

        

The winemaker at Chateau Lahaye allowing me to ‘break through the must’ on their newest harvest.

  

Cheers!

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Last Sunday, I hosted my first wine tasting. How excited was I? Pretty darn excited. Even though it was a group of my friends (or perhaps because of that), I was nervous. I had carefully selected 6 wines to taste with the group, assembled all my glassware, made the savoury and sweet snacks, had the welcome Cava chilled and ready – all I needed was the group! They trickled in over the course of an hour or so (welcome glass of Cava = brilliance as they were sufficiently warmed up within a few minutes) and around 3, we kicked things off…

   

The lineup:
Clos Monistrol Cava, Vintage 2008 (welcome drink)
Martin Codax Albarino, 2011 (Rias Baixas)
Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils, Saint Veran AC, 2010 (Burgundy)
Ned Pinot Noir, Marlborough 20120 (NZ) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Vidal-Fleury, Saint-Joseph AC, 2009 (Northern Rhone)
Matsu, El Recio Tinto de Toro, 2009 (Toro Spain) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Jean Marc Lafage Mise Tardive, Maury AC, 2009 (Roussillon)

What we covered: 
Glassware: why its important and the ideal tasting conditions
Sight, Smell & Taste: Why you go through the steps and what you are looking for
Food pairing: Really we just took a break between the wines to devour some spinach-artichoke dip (recipe below), homemade bread, greek feta pie and madeira cake!!

After we finished the tasting, everyone wanted to open another bottle of the Matsu – so we enjoyed more of that incredible wine and finished off the snacks.

If you want to learn more about wine, you live in (or can travel to) the London area and this sounds like a bit of fun, sign up now for one of my upcoming tastings. Payment is donation only and homemade snacks are always supplied. 

Hot Spinach Artichoke dip
Mix together the following ingredients in a big bowl: 2 packs soft cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 cans artichoke hearts, 1 cup thawed (and drained) frozen spinach, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 tsp hot chili powder (to taste), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.
Place the mixture in a baking tin (shape/size doesn’t matter but make sure it doesn’t sit above the top of the pan).
Top with slices of parmesan cheese (flakes or slices – just make sure they’re thin)
Bake at 180 – 200 degrees C until bubbly and golden
Serve with bread, tortilla chips, pita chips – or just with a spoon!!

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My dad turned 70 this year. He’s still incredible – lots of energy, if only a bit slower moving. As I live in London and my parents are in my hometown of Seattle, I wasn’t able to do anything for his birthday (other than send him a lame card…which even still I never ended up doing. I had it labeled and ready but I really am that big of an oaf that it never made its way to the postal box). In exchange for my complete failure as a daughter, I decided to put on a wine-tasting for him while I was home over the Christmas break. My soon-to-be-in-laws were in town as well so we had a party of 6, making for the perfect social evening! Also my dad loves wine…maybe not as much as I do but he was my initial inspiration for learning more about wine. He knows his Washington reds very well and takes pride in the quality of wine the WA vineyards are creating. I hoped to showcase this for him but also show him a few other examples.
To set the stage, I picked out my dad’s favorite wines – Cabernet (from WA), Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and to a lesser extent Malbec. I didn’t know the winemakers very well so left it up to chance. Some were huge successes – others were complete failures.
I opened the tasting with the WSET approved method for tasting wine (showing off my wine knowledge just a bit…). Look, Smell, Taste and Rate. I talked them through what to look for and told them some basics around the different varietals that we would be tasting.
Overall it was a huge success – though I had to temper my soon-to-be-father-in-law who insists on slugging every tasting measure and can’t help but poke fun at anything and everything…but that is actually a huge part of what made this such a great celebration for my dad. He loves people and loves laughter – mix that with a whole lot of yummy wine and he’s in heaven.
Below are the wines that we tried, listed by our opinion of them (made easy – Love, Like, Nope). Prices range from $8USD – $20USD per bottle at the supermarket.
Love:
Parkers Estate Old Vine Street 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Like:
Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Crest 2009
Renwood Syrah 2008
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009
Nope:
Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009
Espuela del Gaucho Malbec, Limited Edition Reserve 2010

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