Delicious Deccolio

Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Deccolio Prosecco – At $14, this kosher sparkling wine from Italy is simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. It’s worth checking out, even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Several months ago, I mentioned on Twitter that I was having difficulty finding a kosher sparkling wine that was drinkable, much less enjoyable. Kosher Wine Review recommended the Deccolio Prosecco, and I’m so glad I took the suggestion. I’m a big believer that sparkling wine can be opened any day of the week, so not needing an excuse, I decided to open a bottle one night after work.

The Deccolio Prosecco (winery) is from Italy. The wine was a light golden yellow with a lot of good bubbles. On the nose, there were Granny Smith apples, oranges, and hints of white flowers. In the mouth, there were Granny Smith apples, citrus fruits—oranges and lemons—and a hint of flowers and honey. The bubbly had light-to-medium body and bright acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $14, this dry sparkling wine is exactly what I want in an everyday bottle of bubbly, and I recommend it even if you’re not looking for a kosher wine. It’s simple, food-friendly, and refreshing. My one word of caution is that it is very drinkable. I got so carried away with catching up with Hubby about my day, enjoying dinner, and then relaxing in the evening that before I knew it, I was several glasses in on a work night. Ooops!

Question of the Day: Will you open up a sparkling wine any day of the week or is it a special occasion type of wine for you?

Price: $14
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 1): Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate
Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

My first day at the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16) was on a pre-conference excursion through the Livermore Valley Wine Country. This trip was the first time that I could remember tasting wines from the Livermore Valley, and I learned a few important things that have made me a permanent fan of Livermore Valley wines:

  1. 5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

    Ghielmetti Vineyards in the Livermore Valley Wine Country.

    While I’m always a Petite Sirah fan, I’m absolutely in love with the Petite Sirah coming from Livermore;

  2. Semillon never really made a strong impression on me before, but the Semillon from Livermore, whether in a blend or on its own, are worth searching out;
  3. There are some really small producers in the area making limited quantities of the wines…and I loved most of them, which means I’m need to diligently get on their websites and place some online orders directly from the wineries; and
  4. For some unknown reason, I never paid much attention to the two largest producers in the area—Concannon Vineyards and Wente Vineyards—and that was a huge mistake on my part because they are making incredibly good wine at all price ranges.

And, with that overview in mind, let’s start at the beginning…

Our first stop was the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard, which is a 64-acre site that provides grapes to wineries in the area, and we tasted wine from a number of them.

2015 Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $24, this California rose from the Livermore Valley is light bodied and nicely balanced. It’s perfect for a cheese board or some porch sipping, and it will carry over nicely into the fall. You might even want to consider it for your Thanksgiving table. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Vasco Urbano Wine Company Grenache Rose

Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
2015 Grenache Rosé
SRP: $24
Grapes: 100% Grenache from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 84
Light Salmon Pink
Strawberries and lime
Bright acid, light body, and very nicely balanced
4.5 corks

2015 “Lola” White Wine by The Steven Kent Winery – At $24, this California white wine from the Livermore Valley is a fantastic summer white. It’s light and refreshing. It would be perfect with oysters, crabs, or other seafood. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 “Lola” White Wine by The Steven Kent Winery

The Steven Kent Winery (winery)
2015 “Lola” White Wine
SRP $24
Grapes: 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, both from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 396
Clear, light straw yellow
Peaches, limes, and oranges with a hint of lemon curd and pear
Bright acidity with a light body
Great summer wine. I wished I had some seafood or cheese to pair with this.
4 corks

2015 3 Steves Winery Sauvignon Blanc – At $25, this California white wine from the Livermore Valley is very interesting and would be best paired with food. If you like wines with a bit of funk (think melon rinds and oysters) mixed with luscious peaches and pineapple, then this is the wine for you. Rating 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 3 Steves Winery Sauvignon Blanc

3 Steves Winery (winery)
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
SRP $25
Medium yellow with a touch of effervescence in the glass
Something funky on the nose…maybe oysters and melon rinds? Mixed with citrus and pineapple.
The mouth was all peaches and tropical fruits
Very interesting, and probably goes really well with seafood. That said, the funkiness is not my style.
3 corks

2014 Woods Family Vineyards Grenache – At $30, this California red wine from the Livermore Valley is offers something a little different, but is very enjoyable. The aromas are powerful and the taste of strawberries, cherries, a touch of cinnamon and a hint of eucalyptus are delicious. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Wood Family Vineyards Grenache

Wood Family Vineyards (winery)
2014 Grenache
SRP $30
Grapes: Grapes: 100% Grenache from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 122
Medium ruby color
Wow…that nose! Strawberries and cherries with a touch of cinnamon
On the nose, there is also a hint of eucalyptus at the end
Slight creaminess in though
Medium tannins and body. Different, but enjoyable.
4 corks

2012 “Lineage” by The Steven Kent Winery – At $165, this California red wine from the Livermore Valley is Bordeaux blend that is smooth, elegant, and delightful. Sure…the price point is a little high, but if you’re looking for a food-friendly, yummy wine, you won’t go wrong with this choice. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 “Lineage” by The Steven Kent Winery

The Steven Kent Winery (winery)
2012 Lineage (Bordeaux blend)
SRP $165
Grapes: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot from the Ghielmetti Estate and Home Ranch Vineyards
Cases produced: 300
Medium-to-Dark Ruby
Blackberries, cherries, baking spices, and a hint of prune
Medium-to-Full body, tannins, and acid.
A bit high in price, but very yummy
4.5 corks

Selfie in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

Selfie in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

Question of the Day: Have you ever been to Livermore Valley, California? Have you ever had any wines from there? What were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites to share?

Bonus Question of the Day: If you went to WBC16, what were your thoughts on the Livermore Valley wines?

10 Takeaways from the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Livermore Valley & Lodi

Tools of the wine blogging trade

Tools of the wine blogging trade

The Wine Bloggers’ Conferences are always a whirlwind, and this year’s conference was no exception.  It was a packed 5 days in the Livermore Valley and Lodi wine country with other wine nerds who love sharing what they’re eating and drinking just as much as (if not more than) I do. Every year, I come home from the WBC re-energized and chock-full of ideas, which is why this year was my 5th conference. So, to get things started, here are my top 10 takeaways from WBC16:

10.  I’m no longer 23 years old, so 5 hours or less of sleep for 5 days in a row means heading home feeling run down and with a cold; I’m admittedly a little disappointed in myself.

Livermore Valley Windmills

Livermore Valley Windmills

9.  Livermore Valley is not only home to some beautiful vineyards, but some impressive windmill farms; my pictures from the bus don’t do it justice, but I’ve never seen anything like it.

8.  There are over 100,000 acres of wine grapes planted in Lodi, and 7 Deadly Zins are what people know best; because that was my impression of the area, I rarely drink Lodi wine at home, and I assume that is why I have a devil of a time finding it in DC wine stores and restaurants…all of that needs to change.

7.  Michael David Winery survived prohibition by continuing to grow grapes, but instead of making wine from those grapes, they were shipped with instructions on how NOT to ferment them.

Lodi Native Project Zinfandel lineup

Lodi Native Project Zinfandel lineup

6.  The Lodi Native Project Zinfandels were some of my favorite wines during the conference, and the work these winegrowers and winemakers are doing is very impressive; the project is a collaborative project by 6 Lodi winegrowers (although there will be more for the 2015 vintage) that not only highlights the region’s heritage Zinfandel vines, but also requires the wines to be produced through sensible farming and minimalist winemaking practice protocols.

2014 Concannon Vineyard Assemblage Blanc at the vineyard

2014 Concannon Vineyard Assemblage Blanc at the vineyard

5.  People should start looking to Livermore Valley Wine Country for fun, elegant wines; whether it was the large producers like Concannon Vineyards and Wente Vineyards or smaller producers like Vasco Urbano Wine Company and Page Mill Winery, there is a lot of quality wine in all price ranges to be found in the area…so, drink up (or don’t because it means there will be more for me).

4.  The Livermore Valley Wine Country is closer to the San Francisco airport than Napa/Sonoma, and Lodi is only a little further away from San Fran than Napa/Sonoma, so there is no reason why both places can’t become just as popular with wine lovers; both are definitely wine destinations I need to revisit.

3.  There is a reason why Lodi is the self-proclaimed Zinfandel capital of the world (besides producing 32% of California’s premium Zin, what they are producing is delicious), but…

2.  Look to Lodi for some delicious Spanish varietals, like the Tempranillo made by both Amant Winery and McCay Cellars; longtime readers know how I love my Spanish wines.

Pictured top: Becca from The Gourmez, Me, Maria, & Catherine from Pursuing Pinot Picture Bottom: Me and Sarita from Vine me Up; Chris from Forgotten Grapes, Kris from Nebraska Wine Tours, WBC JoJo, Justin from Wizard of Whiskey, and me.

Pictured top: Becca from The Gourmez, Me, Maria, & Catherine from Pursuing Pinot. Pictures on the Bottom: Left: Me and Sarita from Vine me Up; Right: Chris from Forgotten Grapes, Kris from Nebraska Wine Tours, I’m not sure who this is (whoops!), WBC JoJo, Justin from Wizard of Whiskey, and me.

1. The conference is like a big family reunion, except instead of blood relatives, I get a chance to see my wine blogging family, many of whom I haven’t seen in a year or two, and meet new additions…and it’s my favorite part!

Question of the Day: Have you had wines from Livermore Valley or Lodi? What did you think? Do you have a favorite?

Bonus Question if you attended WBC15: What was your #1 takeaway from the conference?

Me with the Lodi Wine sign at the

Me with the Lodi Wine sign at the Hutchins Street Square Center in Lodi

Sunday Baking: Sofia Minis & Andes Mint Cookies

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs & Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies – At an SRP of $20 for a 4-pack, it is worth grabbing this sparkling wine in a can from California. During these last days of summer the Sofia minis are the perfect beach or poolside sipper or a fun option for a cookout. The cookies are delicious, although not the best pairing with the wine. Cheers! Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs & Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies – At an SRP of $20 for a 4-pack, it is worth grabbing this sparkling wine in a can from California. During these last days of summer the Sofia minis are the perfect beach or poolside sipper or a fun option for a cookout. The cookies are delicious, although not the best pairing with the wine. Cheers! Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Sofia Blanc de Blancs 4-pack box

Sofia Blanc de Blancs 4-pack box

Recently, I’ve noticed a number of “wine in a can” options, and I admit that rather than shying away from them, I’ve been intrigued. I always prefer my soda from a can, and often, while I will pour my beer into a glass, there is an argument to be made for the beer tasting fresher from a can than from a bottle. So, why can’t the same theory work for wine?

I decided my first can of wine should be a Sofia mini, which are the Coppola Winery’s single serving cans of the Sofia Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.   The minis come in a 4-pack box, and each can comes with a perfectly sized straw so that you can daintily sip from the can. Since there were several cans for me to experiment with, I made sure to taste the wine both directly from the can, as well as from a wine glass.

Sunday nights have been dedicated cookie time for several years now, but Hubby and I have also started turning it into pizza night because my new dietary restrictions mean I need to make my own at home. Since I already have the oven going, we usually make the pizza once I’m done baking cookies. And, as you can imagine, the Sofia minis seemed like a perfect wine for Sunday night cookie baking and pizza making.

Sofia Blanc de Blancs Mini

Sofia Blanc de Blancs Mini

The Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs (winery, snooth) are made in Modesto, California. The wine was a light-to-medium lemon yellow and had small, persistent bubbles. On the nose, there were flowers and perfume mixed with hints of pineapples and cream. In the mouth, there was honeysuckle and passion fruit mixed with hints of pineapple. The wine was light bodied with nice acidity and a bit of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $20 for a 4-pack, it is worth grabbing a pack or two the next time you’re at the store. The can format gives the wine a little extra bubble, similar to what it does with a soda or beer. Plus, it’s nice to be able to enjoy some bubbly without having to open a whole bottle.  That said, while I enjoyed the sparkler, I also have to admit that this isn’t my favorite of the Coppola wines. Maybe they’ll think about cans for some of the others?

pouring Sofia Blanc de Blancs 2The Andes Mint cookies were delicious and ended up being a big hit in my office. They’re not the type of cookie to make every week, but if you want a minty Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day cookie or are looking for something a little different throughout the rest of the year, these cookies are would be a good option.

Overall, while the sparkler didn’t make a very good pairing with the cookies, it was exactly what I was looking for with the white pizza. Plus, during these last days of summer the Sofia minis are the perfect beach or poolside sipper or a fun option for a cookout.

Question of the day:  What are your thoughts about wine in a can?  Have you tried any?

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
A deliciously minty take on chocolate chip cookies.
Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
A deliciously minty take on chocolate chip cookies.
Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt and unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugars until fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla, peppermint, and egg, and beat for 30 seconds (or until well combined).
  4. Add egg yolk, and beat for 30 seconds (or until well combined).
  5. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  6. Fold in Andes Mints by hand.
  7. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  9. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Take a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.
  11. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

Suggested Retail Price: $20 for a 4-pack
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

The Tribe Chardonnay with My Wine Tribe

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines – At $35, this kosher white wine from Lodi, California is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio scale. It’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

My setup for July's Blogger HangoutI’ve mentioned before that at the 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, I became friends with the several amazing women that make up my “wine tribe” (Alison from Bon Vivant, Ann from Oddball Grape, Becca from The Gourmez, Krista from Upkeep: Wine, Body, and Soul, and Lisa from Wine with Lisa). The two “Allisons/Alisons” live in DC, which means we get to see each other occasionally, but the rest of the group is spread out all over the United States and Canada. Our geographical diversity means we all bring very different perspectives to the conversation, although it also means that almost all of our face-to-face time is done over the Internet rather than in person. It’s one of the many exciting things about this year’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16) in Lodi…I’ll have a chance to see Alison, Becca, and Lisa in person!

In preparation for WBC16, we grabbed some Lodi Chardonnay to pair with our monthly discussion about blogging. Check out Becca’s recap, which not only covers our some thoughts on the different wines we each opened, but also includes great photos from previous Wine Bloggers’ Conferences and her pre-conference thoughts about WBC16.

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay

My 2013 The Tribe by Covenant Wines (winery, snooth) was a kosher wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and using a new flash-dente technique that allows the winery to flash-heat the grapes straight out of the vineyard, rather than heating the wine to make it kosher (read this post for more information on what makes a wine kosher). The wine was a medium lemon yellow. On the nose, there were pineapples and Granny Smith apples. In the mouth, there were pineapples, pears, and cream mixed with the taste of a chewed Popsicle stick.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $34, this wine is a bit expensive on the quality-price ratio, even for a kosher white wine. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a good, enjoyable wine that was delicious with goat cheese, but it’s an “everyday wine” at not-so-every day pricing.

The Tribe CorkOn a fun note, after Krista and Becca mentioned that they had cinnamon characteristics in their Lodi Chardonnay, I detected a hint in mine. However, I have to be honest and say that I’m not really sure if that was power of suggestion or if it was really there. I’ll be on the lookout for cinnamon notes in the Chardonnays while I’m in Lodi this week!

Question of the Day: How do you like your Chardonnay…crisp and aged in stainless steel, a plush oak-and-butter monster, or slightly oaked and somewhere in-between?

Price: $35
Purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
Overall: 3.5 Corks