My Annual Review, Laurent-Perrier Champagne, & A Casserole

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

First off…today is my 8-year Blogiversary, so a quick thank you for being loyal readers!! I’ll post more on my celebration in the next few days. With that, onto the blog post.

Last Tuesday started off with my annual review. No matter how good one feels about his/her job or boss, review time is always nerve-wracking. This year, though, I actually outlined a few new things in my self-evaluation that will expand my role in the association, push me outside my comfort zone, and, hopefully, provide some good career growth. Thankfully, not only to the Big Boss have great feedback about my performance, but also he was very supportive of the goals I outlined. Now, the hard part will be implementing it!

After my review, I was off to meetings with Senate staff for most of the day. Then, I finished things off with a killer spin class at my local spin and barre studio. By the time I walked home, Hubby had dinner–Pinch of Yum’s creamy chicken quinoa and broccoli casserole–in oven, so all that was left was to open a good bottle of wine.

Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec – At $40, this Champagne from France dances in the glass and in your mouth.  The cost makes it a more of a splurge, but the beautiful flavors, and food-friendliness can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Laurent-Perrier Demi Sec

The Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec (winery) is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France and is made with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes. The bubbly had a medium yellow color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles that danced in my glass. The characteristics on the nose and in the mouth with similar–juicy white peaches mixed with lemons and brioche. The wine had a medium body with medium-to-high acidity and a hint of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this sparkler in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $40, it is definitely more of a weeknight splurge, but I thought that a good review was qualified. And, since I’d actually enjoyed this Champagne for the first time a few weeks ago, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Sometimes, I find that Champagne can be almost too subtle, but this bubbly has enough going on that I’m aware of it without it drawing my attention away from conversation or food every time I take a sip.

Admittedly, I enjoyed several glass over the course of the evening. My first was while Hubby finished making dinner. It was a lovely choice for catching up about our day, although it admittedly went down so smoothly that I was ready for my second glass by the time dinner was served. The acidity and bubbles were perfect for cutting through the cheese in the casserole, and the more delicate flavors matched nicely with the lighter seasoning of the chicken and quinoa in the casserole. After dinner, I poured by third glass, grabbed my latest knitting project, and watched a few episodes of Call the Midwife, my latest Netflix addiction.

Question of the Day: What is you’re under-$50, but still a splurge go-to sparkling wine?

Suggested Retail Price: $40
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Fall Has Arrived with Apple Butter Snickerdoodles & Amarone

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

2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico & Apple Butter Snickerdoodles– These easy-to-make cookies and this $40 red wine from Veneto, Italy were each enjoyable on their own, but together, they enhanced each other for an out-of-this-world pairing. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico & Apple Butter Snickerdoodles– These easy-to-make cookies and this $40 red wine from Veneto, Italy were each enjoyable on their own, but together, they enhanced each other for an out-of-this-world pairing. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

The arrival of fall not only means changes in the wine I drink (more reds, fewer roses and whites), but also in the cookies I bake. I really try to have my cookies match the holidays or the seasons, and there are some cookies that would seem out of place any other time of year. At the end of September, I started making the transition to fall cookies. First up were Apple Butter Snickerdoodles, which I paired with an Amarone.

The first time I made apple butter snickerdoodles was last year, and while they had potential, they needed some work. I tweaked last year’s recipe with the goal of making the cookies less cakey and more flavorful. And, my changes definitely paid off! The cookies came out tasting exactly the way I hoped, although I still need to work on how they look. They were a little flat.

2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – At $40, this red wine from Veneto, Italy a little pricey, but as long as the wine aerates before drinking it’s smooth, flavorful, and delicious. This would also be a great wine for aging. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

The 2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (winery, snooth) is a red wine from Veneto, Italy. The wine had a dark ruby red color. On the nose, there were dark plums, cinnamon, nutmeg, and hints of peppermint. In the mouth, there were dark plums, cherries, boysenberry syrup, nutmeg, and dark chocolate dust. The wine had a big body, firm tannins, and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $40, this wine is pricey; however, it’s also beautiful. Admittedly, on the first day, I wasn’t as much of a fan. While it reminded me of a cedar forest after a rainstorm, and so I was very intrigued, the alcohol was high and the wine was very tight. I just wasn’t thinking it was anything special, and it certainly didn’t taste worth the price. I took Wine Compass’ suggestion, though, and was patient with the wine…and my patience paid off. On day 2, the Cesari Amarone was still very flavorful, but the wine was much smoother, more integrate, and absolutely delicious. It’s clearly a wine that needs time and aeration. I also think that it would age nicely, if you have a place to cellar it.

2012 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella Classico & Apple Butter Snickerdoodles– These easy-to-make cookies and this $40 red wine from Veneto, Italy were each enjoyable on their own, but together, they enhanced each other for an out-of-this-world pairing. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.comThe cookies have quickly become a fall favorite. Three dozen disappeared from my office in the couple of hours after our staff meeting and before lunchtime. My brother texted me saying they were “sooooo delicious” and asking for them to stay in the rotation. And, the UPS guys stopped me on the street midweek rather than waiting for next week’s batch, asking me to please not wait until next fall to make these cookies again. So, they were definitely a hit.

Overall, eating the Apple Butter Snickerdoodles with the Amarone was out of this world. It’s hands down the best wine and cookie pairing I’ve had to date. The wine and the cookies were enjoyable on their own, but together, they enhanced each other without one overwhelming the other. Honestly, this combination was the epitome of what every wine and food pairing should be.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite food & wine pairing?

A Glass After Work's Apple Butter Snickerdoodles
Apple Butter Snickerdoodles
Print Recipe
These snickerdoodles are a delicious fall variation of my tried-and-true recipe.
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
A Glass After Work's Apple Butter Snickerdoodles
Apple Butter Snickerdoodles
Print Recipe
These snickerdoodles are a delicious fall variation of my tried-and-true recipe.
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  4. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  5. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  8. In small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon for coating.
  9. Remove one of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  10. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  11. Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated.
  12. Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes.
  14. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Suggested Retail Price: $40
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Rosé & White Wine Live Blogging at the Wine Bloggers Conference

10 Rosé and White Wines – These wines from California and Oregon range from $13-$38. While not every one was a winner, there were a very gems in this group. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

10 Rosé and White Wines – These wines from California and Oregon range from $13-$38. While not every one was a winner, there were a very gems in this group. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

One of the signature events at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference is the Live Wine Blogging. For those who haven’t read my previous recaps or haven’t been to the conference, it’s an hour-long speed tasting where winery representatives have 5 minutes at a table of wine bloggers. The winery representatives talk about the wine while bloggers taste, ask questions, act like the paparazzi taking photos of both the bottles and the reps, and Tweet thoughts or tasting notes. After that, the winery representative moves onto the next table.

The live blogging is like speed dating with wine, and just like speed dating, it’s one of those things that people either love or hate.   Admittedly, I used to find the chaos of it stressful, but over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to really love it. The only thing I would change about the Live Wine Blogging sessions would be to have all of the wines come from the region where the conference is being held. Otherwise, I use the experience as a chance to weed out wines I have no interest in tasting again from wines I think have a lot of potential, are a good quality/price ratio, or that just deserve a little more attention. I then try to taste (and sometimes review), those wines at another time.

Here are the wines I tasted during the Rosé and White Wine Live Blogging:

2015 LangeTwins Family Winery Sangiovese Rosé – At $13, this California rosé wine has a great quality/price ration.  It won’t offer you anything unusual, but it’s reliably tasty and very food friendly Rating: 3.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 LangeTwins Family Winery Sangiovese Rosé

2015 LangeTwins Family Winery Sangiovese Rosé (winery, snooth)
Price: $13
Light-to-medium pink color.
Strawberries and grapefruit rinds on the nose.
Light, but creamy strawberry tart and sour cherries in the mouth.
Bright acidity.
3.5 Corks

2015 d’Art Wines White Barbera – At $20, this white wine from California has a light body and would make a nice summer sipping wine.  Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 d’Art Wines White Barbera

2015 d’Art Wines White Barbera (winery)
Price: $20
Pale straw yellow.
Tart green apples and grapefruit on the nose and in the mouth.
Bright acid with a light-to-medium body.
3 Corks

2015 Michael David Winery Sauvignon Blanc – At $16, this white wine from California is sustainably grown and has nice fruit flavors.  It’s a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc at an affordable price. Rating: 3.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Michael David Winery Sauvignon Blanc

2015 Michael David Winery Sauvignon Blanc (winery, snooth)
Price: $16
Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Light straw yellow.
Full of grapefruits, tropical fruit, and minerality.
Good acid, although a tough high on the alcohol in the mouth.
This wine is sustainably grown.
3.5 Corks

2015 Trione Vineyards and Winery Sauvignon Blanc – At $23, this is a whole lot of California white wine for not too hefty of a price.  Think peach, grass, green pepper, and rose petals.  Every sip will having you thinking “wow” and wishing for oysters. Rating: 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Trione Vineyards and Winery Sauvignon Blanc

2015 Trione Vineyards and Winery Sauvignon Blanc (winery, snooth)
Price: $23
White peaches, grass, hints of green pepper and rose petals.
Nice minerality. Every sip had me thinking…wow and wishing for a raw bar!
4.5 Corks

2015 Klinker Brick Winery Rosé – At $15, this California rosé wine is a perfect summer porch sipper with a nice quality/price ratio. Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Klinker Brick Winery Rosé

2015 Klinker Brick Winery Rosé (winery, snooth)
Price: $15
Grapes: Carignane, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache grapes
Bright salmon pink color.
Lots of grapefruit mixed with hints of tart raspberry and flowers.
Nice acidity and light body.
This wine is a perfect summer porch sipper with a nice quality/price ratio.
4 Corks

2015 Oak Ridge Winery Old Soul Chardonnay – At $13, this white wine from California tastes like pineapple, toasted oak, and baked apples mixed with a lot of alcohol. Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Oak Ridge Winery Old Soul Chardonnay

2015 Oak Ridge Winery Old Soul Chardonnay (winery, snooth)
Price: $13
Pineapple and toasted oak mixed with a hint of baked apple.
Lots of heat.
Lots of other bloggers enjoyed this wine at WBC16, but it was not my thing.
3 Corks

J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé – At $38, this sparkling wine from California is a little pricey, but it’s worth opening on a special occasion or during a holiday like Thanksgiving.  It’s elegant and lingers in the mouth. Rating: 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé

J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé (winery, snooth)
Price: $38
Grapes: 69% Pinot Noir, 29% Chardonnay, & 2% Pinot Meunier
Salmon pink color.
Strawberries and cream with hints of rose petals and apples.
Bright acidity with lingering finish.
An elegant sparkling wine.
4.5 Corks

2014 Concannon Vineyard Chardonnay – At $18, this California white wine is very smooth and is a perfect food wine.  Rating: 3.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Concannon Vineyard Chardonnay

2014 Concannon Vineyard Chardonnay (winery, snooth)
Price: $18
Apples, pears, & some chewed on Popsicle stick.
This wine is very smooth. Would be a great food wine.
3.5 Corks

2014 Peirano Estate Winery "The Other" White Blend – At $14, this California white wine has a sexy label, but is not a sexy wine.  It’s soft mouth feel mixed with perfumey taste makes for a flabby wine that’s not worth the price. Rating: 2.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Peirano Estate Winery “The Other” White Blend

2014 Peirano Estate Winery “The Other” White Blend (winery, snooth)
Price: $14
Grapes: 65% Chardonnay, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Viognier
White flowers & apples.
Soft mouth feel & perfumery with hints of bubble gum.
Love the label, but sadly I don’t the wine.
2.5 Corks

2015 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir – At $24, this white wine from Oregon has a light body, nice acidity, and a lingering finish.  It’s truly a delicious wine.  Rating: 4 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir

2015 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir (winery, snooth)
Price: $24
Full of stone fruit, pineapple, and grapefruit on the nose.
In the mouth, there were stone fruits, Granny Smith Apples, grapefruits, and pineapple with hints of raspberries.
Light body. Nice acid. Lingering finish. Delicious wine!!
4 Corks

Question of the Day:  Have you ever gone wine tasting?  What are you thoughts on trying multiple wines in one sitting?

Bonus Question: If you’ve been to a Wine Bloggers’ Conference, what are you thoughts on the Live Blogging?

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 5): Last Day in Livermore Valley

Las Positas Vineyard

Las Positas Vineyard

The final vineyard stop on the Livermore Valley pre-wine bloggers’ conference excursion was to Las Positas Vineyard. The gracious hosts not only had space for us to taste their wine, but also the wines from several other wineries in the area. There were also several booths from local businesses. Our schedule up until this point had been crammed full and a little rushed (although I wouldn’t have wanted to cut anything off the schedule!), so it was nice to have a little bit of time to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – At $68, this California red wine is very non-intrusive. It has medium body, a mix of fruit and spice characteristics, and is definitely meant for food. Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (winery)
Price $68
Dark ruby color
Plums, cherries, and a hint of spice on the nose
Plums, cherries, tobacco, and hints of clove in the mouth
Medium body and tannins, high acid
I know this wine won the Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Silver at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, but I was really underwhelmed, particularly at such a high price point.
3 Corks

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $48, this California red wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful. Just give it a little time to breath and the wine will be one to spend an entire evening getting to know. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
Price: $48
Grapes: 100% Petit Sirah
Cases produced: 100
Dark inky purple
Blueberry, blackberry, and boysenberry syrup on the nose
Add chocolate to that in the mouth
Big, grippy tannins, full body, and good acid
This wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful once it has a little time to breath. There is a lot going on, but its so well balanced that it’s the type of wine I want to spend an entire evening getting to know.
4.5 Corks

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah – At $38, this California red wine is one that is a food-friendly wine that you should feel comfortable ordering at a restaurant or grabbing in the store. Nothing crazy different, but solidly enjoyable. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah (winery)
Price: $38
Grapes: 100% syrah
Cases produced: 115
Medium-to-dark ruby color
Blackberries, smoke, and cedar on the nose
Blackberries, dark plums, smoke, cedar and baking spices in the mouth.
Medium-to-full body, tannins, and acid.
3.5 Corks

And with that, my final thoughts on Livermore Valley…

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

WOW! There is no doubt, I’ve fallen in love with wine from the area. Admittedly, my favorites were Murrieta’s Well, which I reviewed here, and Vasco Urbano Wine Company, which we didn’t visit, although we tasted their wines at a variety of stops throughout the Livermore Valley trip (my thoughts on their wines are here). Vasco Urbano specializes in Rhone styles (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and the delicious blends that can be made from those grapes), so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed their wines as those tend to be the grapes I gravitate towards. That said, their winemaker, Collin Cranor, does amazing things with grapes, as I also really enjoyed the wines we tasted from Nottingham Cellars—Vasco Urbano’s sister winery. Nottingham Cellars wines are all Bordeaux-style red blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

All that said, if you aren’t drinking wine from the Livermore Valley, you should be. Whether it’s the larger producers or the smaller producers, the wines are mostly reasonably priced and they are ridiculously good.

Question of the day: When you pick wine for yourself, would you go for the Rhone styles or the Bordeaux styles?

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