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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: A Luscious Lodi Zin & Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel & a Pumpkin Snickerdoodle recipe -- At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel & a Pumpkin Snickerdoodle recipe — At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

In 10 days, I’m heading to Lodi, California for the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16).   The conference location was announced last August at the close of the 2015 conference in the Finger Lakes, and since then, I’ve been peppering my wine choices with options from Lodi. Admittedly, I’ve been slow to blog about those wines, but, as I start to think about WBC16, I’ve gone back through my tasting notes, and now, it’s time to share.

2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel -- At $15, this full body red wine from Lodi, California has a great quality-price ratio. It’s food-friendly and luscious, making it easy to drink any time of year. Ratings 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel

First up, the 2011 Scotto Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel. I opened this wine on a Sunday evening (November 1, 2015) while baking Pumpkin Snickerdoodles inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The 2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel (winery, snooth) is from Lodi, California. The wine was a dark, ruby red. Both on the nose and in the mouth, there were blackberries, cherries, and vanilla mixed with hints of baking spice. The wine was full-bodied with soft tannins and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $15, the excellent quality-price ratio of this wine is undeniable. It’s a wine that pairs well with all types of food regardless of the time of year—think grilled Portobello mushrooms or a juicy steak in the summer and slow cooker braised short ribs and mashed potatoes or lamb stew in the winter. Not to mention that this easy-to-drink wine is perfect for just sipping while talking with friends and snacking on a cheese and charcuterie board.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bite

As for the cookies, they’re still a work in progress. I essentially melded my Snickerdoodle recipe with Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. They were definitely tasty, but I would like for them to be a little more pumpkin-y and a little less pumpkin spice flavored. I also know that adding more pumpkin can mess with the texture, so that’s why it’s still a work in progress. They’re still worth making even without tweaks to the recipe.

Overall, these cookies are a seasonal favorite both at home and at my office, and they made for a delicious match with this dark berry and baking spice-filled Zin.

Question of the Day: Do you go to conferences for either work or your blog (or both)? What is your favorite part about conference-going?

2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle
Print Recipe
This pumpkin variation of my regular snickerdoodle recipe is a delicious, seasonal cookie.
Servings
4 dozen
Servings
4 dozen
2011 Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle
Print Recipe
This pumpkin variation of my regular snickerdoodle recipe is a delicious, seasonal cookie.
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 vanilla and pumpkin puree. Mix until combined.
  4. On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  5. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Dough will be very soft.
  6. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Remove dough from the refrigerator to let it warm up for a minute or two, if you left it for more than 30 minutes.
  9. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  10. In small bowl, mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon for coating.
  11. Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated.
  12. Place cookies on lined 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 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction's Pumpkin Snickerdoodles and a modification of my Snickerdoodle recipe.

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Lambrusco Tasting at Osteria Morini

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

6 Lambrusco, Italian Sparkling Red Wines – Ranging from $7-$25, these wines range from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine. All 6 wines are easy to drink and are perfect for pairing with food. The blog post includes details from a wine pairing dinner. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Banfi’s Lambrusco seminar at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC15) inspired the focus for this year’s tasting. In the WBC15 session, I learned that Lambrusco is the most purchased Italian red wine in U.S. retail chain stores. And, I realized that while I love ordering Lambrusco out at restaurants, I knew very little about the wine, I rarely bought a bottle to drink at home, and even less frequently wrote about it on the blog. So, I decided while still at the conference that 2016 was the year I would publically embrace Lambrusco, and what better way to do that than by organizing a Lambrusco wine dinner for my work colleagues.

Setup at Osteria Morini for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Setup at Osteria Morini for the Lambrusco tasting

At least once a year, my department does a team-building event. Several months after I started at this job, I offered to do an Albariño wine tasting for one of these gatherings. Since then, our annual staff bonding has occurred over food and wine. Usually, it’s just for the 15 people in my division that are located in DC. This year, however, the tasting ended up being while the regional members of our team were in town, so our size actually doubled. None of my coworkers are wine experts and only a couple could even recall ever having a Lambrusco before our dinner.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the wine, Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine made from a family of grapes that are unique to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This northern part of the country is about the size of Massachusetts and is particularly well known for the food that comes from the area. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Lambrusco makes for a perfect wine pairing with many of these items.

As luck would have it, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in DC–Osteria Morini–specializes in food from the Emilia-Romagna, so there was no question about holding the wine tasting dinner there.

Lineup for 2016 Lambrusco Tasting

Lambrusco tasting lineup

There were 6 different Lambruschi (the plural of Lambrusco), ranging from dry to sweet, as well as from pale in color like a rose to inky purple like a sparkling red wine.

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara

Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara (winery)
SRP: $15 (purchased in restaurant for $40 a bottle)
Grapes: 90% Lambrusco di Sorbara and 10% Lambrusco Salamino
Medium pink color with flecks of ruby and a pale pink foam
Roses and violets mixed with strawberries and raspberries
Lighter bodied with bright acidity.
3.5 Corks

Albinea Canali "FB" Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” Lambrusco

Albinea Canali “FB” (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Sorbara
Pinkish-red
Fresh and fruity with lots of strawberries and hints of yeastiness that comes from the second fermentation in the bottle
Lighter bodied with refreshing tartness
Dry
4 Corks

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

Albinea Canali Ottocentonero (winery, snooth)
SRP: $20 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: 50% Lambrusco Salamino, 40% Lambrusco Grasparossa, and 10% Lancellotta
Darker ruby with hints of purple and a pinkish foam
Cherries and blackcurrant on the nose
Flower petals and sour cherry in the mouth
Dry, almost bitter finish with bright acidity, but pleasantly so.
3.5 Corks

Riunite

Riunite

Riunite (website, snooth)
SRP: $7 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Montericco, and Lancellotta
Dark ruby with hints of violet and purplish, foamy top.
Big and fruity—strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries
Medium bodied with soft tannins.
Sweet
4.5 Corks

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa

2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno
Cost: $25 from Wine Library
Grapes: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark, purplish ruby with a nice foam top
Mixture of strawberries and blackberries with hints of sour cherry, rose petals, and something herby
Medium bodied with soft tannins
Hint of sweetness
4.5 Corks

Bell'Agio

Bell’Agio

Bell’Agio (website, snooth)
SRP: $15 (*provided as a sample)
Grapes: Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Grasparossa
Dark ruby with hints of purple and foamy top
Mixture of raspberry and blackberries
Full-bodied with a bit of acid and soft tannins
Luscious and sweet
4 Corks

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

2016 Lambrusco Tasting Menu at Osteria Morini

What I still love about these wine dinners is that they’re not just about the wines, but also about experiencing the wines with good food and company. And, the restaurant definitely didn’t let us down when it came to good food.

cheese and charcuterie board

cheese and charcuterie board

The evening started with a cheese and charcuterie board to go with our first Lambrusco–the Donelli Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is the only bottle we opened from the restaurants wine list. The Lambrusco and the boards were enjoyed cocktail hour style, with everyone standing our talking, eating, and sipping away. After that, we sat down to dinner at two long tables, where we indulged in a 4-course, family style dinner.

The Antipasti Course - Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

The Antipasti Course – Polpo alla Piastra, Polpettine, and Burrata

After the about 30 minutes of standing around talking, we settled into our seats for dinner. The Albinea Canali “FB” was served with the antipasti course–Polpo alla Piastra (charred octopus, fregola, and tomato); Polpettine (mortadella & prosciutto meatballs, pomodoro), which is one of my favorite dishes at Osteria Morini, and Burrata (house-made mozzarella, grapefruit, and pistachio). The FB is a lighter, drier style of Lambrusco. And, while the FB paired nicely with all three dishes, I could not get enough of combining it with the octopus. I kept taking a sip of wine, then a bit of octopus, and another sip of wine. It was one of the few dishes I went back for seconds on, even knowing how much more food was left to come.

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

The Primi course (rigitoni, gramigna, and cassarecce) with the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero

For the second course (or Primi course), we opened the Albinea Canali Ottocentonero to drink with three different pasta dishes–a Rigatoni (made with braised wild mushrooms, rosemary oil, and parmigiano), a Gramigna (made with pork sausage, carbonara, and pecorino), and a Cassarecce (a squid ink pasta with scallops, squid, rapini, and calabrian chili). The Gramigna is usually my go-to dish at the restaurant, but I think that’s because I never had the Cassarecce before. The Cassarecce was my favorite of the night, and when put with the acidity and flavors of the Lambrusco, both the food and the wine came to life in a way that took what was already enjoyable individually and just made them sing together.

The main course (or secondi) actually featured two Lambruschi–Riunite and 2013 Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno–and they were paired with several different types of meats–Anatra (duck breast, spaetzle, trumpet mushrooms, spinach, radish); Branznio (Mediterranean seabass, chickpeas, charred broccoli, taggaisca olives, and bagna cauda); and Grigliata Mista (lamb porterhouse, pork ribs, chicken sausage, and hanger steak). Our side dishes, which I somehow missed getting a picture of, were Patata Fritti (crispy red bliss potatoes with pecorino) and Spinaci (buttered spinach).

The Secondi Course - Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Secondi Course – Anatra, Branzino, and Grigliata Mista

The Riunite has a bit of sweetness, definitely more than the Fattoria Moretto Monovitigno, but that made the pairings even more interesting because everyone agreed that both wines matched the food beautifully. Several coworkers mentioned that they never really experienced a “good” pairing and the difference it can make in how the wine and the food both taste, but that this course really highlighted the possibilities for them.

It’s also worth noting that during this course, we tasted both the least and most expensive wines of the night. Interestingly, they were also both the favorite wines of the night. When it came to these two in particular, since we were tasting side-by-side, I asked everyone to show their hand for preferences before reveling the cost of the retail cost of the wines, and it was split almost exactly down the middle.

Dolci course with the Bell'Agio

Dolci course with the Bell’Agio

Finally, we finished the evening off with our last Lambrusco–the Bell’Agio–and dessert (Dolci course). This Lambrusco was the sweetest of the night, and its sweetness was particularly nice with the flavors of the Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, lady finger, amaretto, and coffee crema) and Torta al Cioccolato (chocolate ganache and praline crunch).

Overall, the tasting was a huge success! I’ve had several coworkers follow-up when they’ve ordered Lambrusco at a restaurant or bought a bottle to share at home, and that is the ultimate sign of success for me. A special thanks to Joe and Dino at Banfi for generously providing 4 of the 6 wines we tasted and to Jonna, Rubio, and the rest of the Osteria Morini DC team for an unforgettably delicious evening.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had Lambrusco? If so, what are your thoughts on the type of wine? Do you have a favorite?

An Evening With the Wine Women of the Finger Lakes

Clean duvet postitAfter leaving Villa Bellangelo on the first day of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference pre-conference excursion, we had an hour to settle into our rooms at the Hampton Inn in Geneva, NY. While not overly fancy, the hotel was clean (even leaving a little sticky note on my headboard ensuring me my duvet cover and sheets had been freshly cleaned), the staff was super organized and friendly, and the location was walking distance to Seneca Lake and downtown. It was perfect for our group.

FLXWineWomen

FLX Wine Women–Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards, Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, and Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Once we were cleaned up, we headed to Ventosa Vineyards for a night of food and wine with the FLX Wine Women– Chef Heather Tompkins from OPUS Espresso and Wine Bar, Erica Paolicelli from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, Jenna Lavita from Ventosa Vineyards, Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards, and Martha Macinski from Standing Stone Vineyards. Each of the women gave a presentation, highlighting not only what was unique about each of their vineyards, but also what was unique about them and their experiences being a women in an industry that is often dominated by men.   Then, during dinner, they each spent one course with one of the four tables, giving us the opportunity to talk with them one-on-one.

Background on the wineries and the restaurant

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

Seneca Lake and a glass of NY Cider at Ventosa Vineyards

OPUS is located in Geneva and specializes in freshly roasted espresso, homemade, Paninis, fresh baked pastries…and wine, of course. While I didn’t get a chance to visit OPUS during the trip, Chef Heather prepared a decadent dinner made from local ingredients that highlighted the wonderful things each of the local winemakers are doing with their wines. Should I find myself in Geneva again, I will definitely be visiting OPUS in person.

Three Brothers Wineries & Estates actually is made of three wineries–Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, Passion Feet Wine Barn, and Bagg Dare Wine Company–and a microbrewery called War Horse Brewing Co. that makes both hard ciders and beer. They actually have two locations if you’re looking to taste–the location in Geneva, as well as a storefront in Eastview Mall.

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Liz Leidenfrost from Leidenfrost Vineyards

Ventosa Vineyards consists of 23 acres overlooking Seneca Lake. They’re known for producing dry red wines like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese. The night WBC15 was at Ventosa, they were awarded the 2015 Governor’s Cup for Best Red Wine–the 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Lemberger.

Standing Stone Vineyards is 41 acres and was originally planted in the early 1970’s as Gold Seal Vineyards. Owners Tom & Marti Macinski bought the farm in 1991 and have grown it from a vineyard that produced 800 cases of wine in 1993 to one that now produces about 8000 cases.

Leidenfrost Vineyards has been owned and run by the Leidenfrost family since 1947. It’s located on the east side of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY and produces about 3000 cases of wine annually.

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

The FLX Wine Women Dinner Menu

Dinner and the wines

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

Candy Beet Melon-Arugula Salad with Red Jacket Cheribundi-Curry Vinaigrette, Stony Brook Pumpkin Oil and Seeds, and First Light Goat Cheese paired with a 2014 Three Brothers Winery & Estates Pinot Noir Rosé and Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs

2014 Three Brothers Winery and Estates Pinot Noir Rosé
Sadly, I couldn’t find any information about this wine on Three Brothers’ website, but it was a very pleasant rosé and I recommend trying it if you see it. The wine offered some lighter red fruit notes and had good acidity, which helped it hold up to the oil and cheese in the salad. It would be a great sipper on a hot summer day.
4 Corks

Leidenfrost Vineyards Blanc de Blancs ($25)
The is a traditional Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes. It was very subtle, with some honeysuckle, cream, and a hint of toast. It was a favorite at my table, and the bottle was empty before I had a chance for seconds. I particularly liked it with the pumpkin seeds in the salad.
4 Corks

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

Sweet Corn-Muranda Cheese, Cheddar Studded Risotto Cake with Summer Tomato and Fennel Coulis and Jalapeño-Orange Mascarpone paired with a 2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir and a 2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer

2012 Ventosa Vineyards Pinot Noir ($25)
100% Pinot Noir grapes
Produced: 210 cases
The Pinot Noir was a light ruby color with bright cherry notes, low tannins, and a bit of acidity. The acidy and lighter body helped cut through the fat in the cheese and risotto cake, keeping both the flavors of both the food and wine fresh in my mouth.
3.5 Corks

2013 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer ($15)
Produced: 1218 cases
This wine caught my attention because it was very different from the others. It had a light body and good acidity, like many of the other wines, but the rose petals and passion fruit notes combined with its food-friendliness made it very memorable. Plus, the price point makes it a nice every day option.
4 Corks

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Grilled Petit Finger Lakes Farms Filet Mignon and Scallop with Wilted Baby Kale, Piggery Bacon Vinaigrette, Cayuga Blue, and Pickled Red Onion paired with Three Brothers Winery and Estates 0 Degree of Riesling and a 2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Three Brothers Winery & Estates 0 Degree of Riesling ($14)
This Riesling was clear, crisp, and stunning…especially at this price point. There were some nice apple and pear notes, mixed with a refreshing minerality and a bright acidity. I was nervous about pairing it with the filet portion of dinner, but it held up surprisingly well. That said, I couldn’t get enough of it with the scallop.
4.5 Corks

2011 Ventosa Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($27)
100% Cabernet Franc grapes
Produced: 285 cases
Nice medium ruby color with black cherry and earthy notes. I could have used a touch more body on the wine to match the nose, but it was still delicious. In fact, while it’s a little pricey, it was my favorite of the Ventosa wines and paired beautifully with the filet and scallop.
4 Corks

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Red Jacket Peaches and Ginger Galette with Seneca Salted Caramel and Shaved Seneca Salt Bark Dark Chocolate paired with Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port and a 2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice

Leidenfrost Vineyards Cabaret Port ($25)
Holy cow…this port was absolutely luscious. There were ripe raspberries mixed with vanilla and a hint of baking spice. It was like drinking liquid velvet. Pairing it with the salted caramel and dark chocolate was just decadent.
4.5 Corks

2014 Standing Stone Vineyards Gewürztraminer Ice ($25)
While I always enjoy a good sweet wine, I usually only enjoy them while dining out. This wine left me wondering if I should keep a bottle on hand at home. It’s a full body, sweet wine with good acidity. There are golden raisin and honey notes, and the wine just lingers in your mouth.
4.5 Corks

Question of the Day: One of the FLX Wine Women wondering during her presentation about the benefits of focusing solely on women in the wine industry.  Statistically, there are more men winemakers than women.  Is gender something that makes a difference to you when deciding what wine to buy?  Is this something that you think people should be talking about?

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

Sunset over Seneca Lake at Ventosa Vineyards

Villa Bellangelo Riesling (and one Outstanding Rosé)

Wine and Tweeting at Villa Bellangelo during WBC15

Wine and Tweeting at Villa Bellangelo during WBC15

I started my Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC15) experience on the pre-conference excursion to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail (SLWT). Seneca Lake is the largest of the Finger Lakes and the deepest lake in New York State. The SLWT is home to 35 wineries. While Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir are the dominate grapes, wineries are experimenting with grapes like Blaufränkisch/Lemberger and Grüner Veltliner, as well as some of the native and hybrid grapes.

Villa Bellangelo Riesling lineup

Villa Bellangelo Riesling lineup

The first winery stop was to Villa Bellangelo (@BellangeloWine), which is on a hill overlook central Seneca Lake.  We were greeted with a rosé, and then had the opportunity to taste their wines at our own pace.

2013 Villa Bellangelo Rosé

2013 Villa Bellangelo Rosé

2013 Dry Rosé ($13)
40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 30% Cabernet Franc
Production: 200 cases
One of my favorite wines of the weekend, both because of the quality and the price, and my first Finger Lakes Rosé. This wine had some strawberries, some red delicious apples, and good acidity without it being over powering. It was fantastic with the goat cheese and the prosciutto.
4.5 Corks

2012 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2012 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2012 Dry Riesling ($19, the winery limits purchases of past vintages to 3 bottles)
100% Riesling
Production: 303 cases
Wow…that nose! This wine was everything I expect from a Riesling in one beautiful glass. There was some minerality, Granny Smith apples, grapefruits, and a hint of gooseberry. The winery says this is dry, but there is definitely a touch of sweetness, but the bright acidity and keeps the wine tasting fresh.
4 Corks

2013 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2013 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2013 Dry Riesling ($18)
100% Riesling
Production: 475 cases
This wine didn’t have quite the complexity of the 2012, but there were still some good Granny Smith apple and citrus notes. It was food friendly wine that I would happily buy if I saw it on a restaurant wine list or in my local wine store.
3.5 Corks

2014 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2014 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling

2014 Dry Riesling
This wine is still unreleased, and I don’t have the price in my notes, but keep your eye out for this one. It was interesting, and while it wasn’t my favorite, I think it would make a nice summer picnic wine at the right price point.  Definitely the most fruit forward, although I wonder if that will calm down a little with some aging.
3.5 Corks

Question of the Day: Now that Labor Day has come and gone, are you going to start migrating away from white wines like Riesling?