A Grandes Vinos Red With My Blogger Group

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas – At $20 a bottle, this red wine blend is from Cariñena, Spain, which is the country’s leading producer of old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena. The wine is medium bodied and definitely meant to drink with food. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas – At $20 a bottle, this red wine blend is from Cariñena, Spain, which is the country’s leading producer of old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena. The wine is medium bodied and definitely meant to drink with food. Ratings 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Two years ago at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara, I met a fantastic group of women that are now my “blogger circle” (links to their sites are below).  We regularly discuss all things wine, blogging, and wine blogging on a Facebook group, and then Google Hangout once a month, where we talk face-to-face about a particular topic that’s come up during our Facebook discussions.  I’m constantly learning from them, and I particularly love our Hangouts because I’m able to come home from work and just geek out with blogger friends about something we all enjoy…and we do it over a glass (or several) of wine.

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas

2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas

During a recent Hangout, I opened the 2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas, which is a red wine from Cariñena, in the Aragon region of Spain.  According to the press information that came with the wine, Grandes Vinos y Viñedos works with 5 winery partners within 14 different growing areas of Cariñena.  These partners collaborate and release a variety of wines as Grandes Vinos.

The 2007 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Monasterio de las Viñas (website) was a blend of 60% Garnacha. 30% Tempranillo, and 10% Cariñena.  The wine’s color was a dark ruby with a purple tint.  On the nose, there were dark cherries with hints of cocoa dust and smoked meat.  In the mouth, there were black cherries, blackberries, and smoked meat with hints of cedar and pepper.  The wine was medium bodied with medium tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work?  Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass.  At an SRP of $20, this wine is definitely a food wine rather than a “sip and chat” wine.  It’s a little thin and acidic, and while I enjoyed the nose, I just kept wishing for a little more every time I took a taste.  Granted, that didn’t stop be from sipping away while talking online with my blogger friends, but overall, I felt the wine was a little pricey for what it offered.

Check out the other bloggers in my blogger circle:
Allison from Bon Vivant
Anne from Oddball Grape
Becca from The Gourmez
Krista from Upkeep: Wine, Body, and Soul
Lisa from Wine with Lisa

Question of the Day: Are you a blogger?  Do you have a blogger group and, if so, what is the most useful part of the group for you? 

State of the Union with Le Sage

State of the Union and a Michel Schlumberger MerlotI’ve written before about the State of the Union address being a big event in DC.  When I worked on Capitol Hill, I either watched the speech at a bar with other staffers or I watched from home while emailing coworkers.  We always had copies of the speech several hours beforehand, so responses were prepared before leaving work.  Watching the speech was really about the event itself…and I’ve always loved it, regardless of who is President.

This year was the second year watching the speech from “off the Hill,” and it’s a very different experience.  Most of my coworkers don’t watch and feel it’s anticlimactic.  The fact that we all had the text beforehand meant the little bit of chatter about the speech happened before we left work, and that was the end of their interest.  So, I came home, opened a bottle of wine, and grabbed my iPad so I could email friends who were still on the Hill and read all the Twitter commentary.  Just because my coworkers are jaded about the event, didn’t mean I was going to lose my enthusiasm for it.

2007 Michel-Schlumberger "Le Sage" Merlo

2007 Michel-Schlumberger “Le Sage” Merlot

The 2007 Michel-Schlumberger “Le Sage” Merlot (winery) is from Dry Creek Valley, California.  The wine was a dark ruby with a brownish tint.  On the nose, there was leather and earth with hints of dark berries and dried roses.  In the mouth, thee were blackberries and pomegranates with hints of smoked meat, dust, and dried roses. The wine had a medium-to-full body and medium-to-high tannins and acidity.

Michel Schlumberger Le Sage Merlot corkIs this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine.  At $28, this wine was delicious when I drank it about a year and a half ago and well-worth the splurge in cost.  Now, though, I think the 2007 vintage is a little passed its prime.  That’s not a comment on the quality of the wine, but rather on my miscalculation of when to drink it.  That said, it’s held up nicely—having more savory aging characteristics and a nice, long finish.    It just seems to have lost a little of the something special that I enjoyed the first time I tasted it.

Question of the Day: Have you ever held onto a wine that you were “saving” only to realize when you opened it that you waited too long?

 

Price: $28
Purchased at Michel-Schlumberger Winery
Overall: 3 Corks

Starting 2014 with Santana’s Sparking Rosé

2007 Wedding PhotoOn Tuesday, Hubby and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary.  To be honest, I can’t believe how quickly the time flies.  We’ve both changed a lot since 2007, but the fact that we’ve done it together has helped make our relationship stronger.  To be honest, our “6th year” was a good one, so I wasn’t necessarily in a rush for it to be over.  That said, 2013 was also a year that reminded me how very lucky I am.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I had major hip surgery in March 2013.  The surgery left me stuck at home and in bed for 3 weeks.  Even when I returned to work, I spent several more weeks working part-time and hobbling around on crutches.  And none of that includes the months physical therapy or the fact that I couldn’t drive for 6 months.  Through all of it, I know I wasn’t the easiest patient, but I could never have gotten through the surgery and the lengthy recovery without Hubby’s support, encouragement, and love.  So, we definitely had something to celebrate this year.

2007 Santana Supernatural Rosé

2007 Santana Supernatural Rosé

Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but a couple of my girlfriends and I are splitting a Mumm Napa Wine Club membership.  Our first Club Vivant shipment arrived right before the holidays, and it not only included two magnums that the three of us will open in a few weeks when we finally have a chance to get together, but also it included a wine that is the collaboration of musician Carlos Santana and Mumm winery—the 2007 Santana Supernatural Rosé.  Hubby is not a big music person, but when we first started dating there were several conversations about Santana and how sexy his music is.  Because of those conversations, Santana has followed us through our relationship.  Therefore, when I saw a “Santana” bottle of wine in our shipment…and a vintage from the year we were married…I knew which wine I was claiming and what I would be opening to celebrate our anniversary this year!

2007 Santana Supernatural Rose in the glassThe 2007 Santana Supernatural Rosé (winery) is from Napa, California and is a blend of 51% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, and 1% Syrah grapes.  The bubbly had an orangey-pink color with a lot of small persistent bubbles.  On the nose, there were red plums, Bing cherries, and touches of cream and vanilla.  In the mouth, there were blackberries and cream mixed with tart Bing cherries and hints of toast and limes.  The sparkler had a light body and bright acidity.

It’s also important to note that Carlos Santana donates 100% of his proceeds from the wine sales to his family’s Milagro Foundation.  The foundation was started in 1998, and it provides financial assistance for educational, medical and housing needs of children all over the world.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At the regular retail price of $70, the sparker is actually a little pricey for what it had to offer.  I want my socks knocked off with a little more subtle complexity for that much money, and it didn’t quite do that.  However, the wine is currently on sale for $56, and if you’re a Club Vivant member it actually is $52.  For $52, this bubbly has good flavors, fresh acidity, and a little something special to offer.

I actually opened the sparkler after Hubby and I returned from dinner at SEI.  We opted to celebrate with sushi because, after spending two weeks in Italy, anything else was bound to be a huge disappointment.  Plus, SEI is one of our favorite sushi restaurants in DC, and it didn’t disappoint.  I ordered a new wine for dinner–the 2011 YINYANG Pinot Grigio Roséfrom the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  It was the perfect pairing.  Light in flavor, but still having some pink grapefruit and lemongrass mixed in with the bright acidity.  It was everything I want in a sushi wine.

2007 Santana Supernatural Rose and my moleskin wine journalWhen it came to the food, admittedly, I’m a creature of habit with SEI’s sushi, as I love their “Fish and Chips” flounder and “Triple Tuna” rolls.  Hubby and I did switch things up a little with our non-sushi dishes, though, as we tried the shrimp tacos (which came with guacamole, wasabi sour cream, and potato crisps) and the fried rice (which was with eggs, crispy ginger, and Chinese sausage).  The tacos were good, but the fried rice was the stand out dish.  It was absolutely fantastic.  Afterwards, Hubby and I capped off the evening with a raspberry sorbet and sea salt ice cream.

By the time we got home, Hubby and I were both stuffed.  However, that didn’t stop me from opening the Mumm bubbly and my new 2014 Moleskin Wine journal, which has become an annual Christmas present.   All in all, the 2007 Santana Supernatural Rosé perfect way to cap off our 7th anniversary celebration.

P.S.  Don’t forget to fill out my reader survey.  It’s only 9 multiple choice questions, and I’d love your input as I figure out what’s on tap for A Glass After Work!

Question of the Day: Do you like to drink wine with sushi?

Price: $52
Purchased at Mumm Napa’s Wine Club
Overall: 4 Corks

Passover 2012 Top 5 Wine List

Last year, while putting together my Passover 2011 Top 5 Kosher wine list, I realized I was sorely lacking in white and sparkling wine recommendations.  In fact, not only were all of my recommendations red wines, they were all Israeli red wines.  What was most unfortunate about this was that it wasn’t from a lack of trying non-Israeli, non-red wines.  It was just that none of them were any good.  On some level, it makes sense that Israeli winemakers are rocking the kosher wine market, but that didn’t change my desire to branch out a little.  So, I spent the last year on a mission to find good kosher wines from elsewhere in the world, particularly ones that were sparkling or white and help round out my kosher wine options.

My quest paid off.  While I still prefer kosher reds to kosher bubbly and kosher whites, I found a few California and Italian options to add to my recommendations.  That said, I still feel I have a dearth of kosher white-and-sparkling wine recommendations, which means my search continues.  If you have any ideas, please share them by leaving a comment or sending me an email.

The first night of Passover is two weeks away, so as you start thinking about your menu and your wine options, here are my Passover 2012 Top 5 kosher wine recommendations:

 

Borgo Reale Prosecco

Borgo Reale Prosecco

#5
The Borgo Reale Prosecco is a mevushal sparkling wine from Italy.  It had light citrus and yeast aromas that were mixed with a hint of apple.  The sparkler paired nicely with fish, but was particularly enjoyable when mixed with some orange juice.  That makes this sparkler a fun addition to the Passover Seder, as well as a good way to celebrate the guests leaving on Sunday morning.  I gave this bubbly 3 corks and purchased it for $18.

 

 

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo

#4
The 2008 Bartenura Nebbiolo was made with 100% certified organic Nebbiolo grapes.  It had a nice mix of red fruits and violets, along with a hint of tobacco that gave the wine a slightly different character. It’s very food-friendly and will go particularly with Italian dishes like my spinach matzo lasagna.  I have this wine 3.5 corks and, while it was a sample, it retails for about $17.

 

 

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay

#3
The 2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay had nice complexity, good balance, and the slightest hint of oak.  There were good citrus fruits mixed with pears, apricots, and vanilla, as well as a hint of ginger and cloves that gave the wine a nice complexity.  It was food-friendly and would be a nice way to start of a Passover dinner, but it also drinks well on its own if you just want to enjoy it with guests before sitting down to start the Sedar.  I gave this wine 4 Corks and purchased it for $37.

 

 

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

#2
The 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon was made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Black fruits dominated the wine, and it had a nice smoothness and balance to it.  The wine promised to age nicely and is one that I can’t wait to pair with my Nana’s brisket.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $16.

 

 

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

#1
The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon is a California Cabernet that will knock your socks off, whether you’re looking for a kosher wine or not.  It was full of cedar, smoke, and black fruits, but also had hints of spices that gave it a complexity that was particularly enjoyable.  The wine was food-friendly, so it would be perfect for a Seder or holiday dinner, but it’s so luscious and tantalizing, that it’s also quite enjoyable on its own.  While the fruit characteristics dominate right now, I think this is a wine that will age nicely over the next 10 years, so be sure to buy a bottle to enjoy now and one to open in the future.  I think it will be worth the wait. I gave this wine 5 corks and purchased it for $70.

Question of the Day: Have you started thinking about your Passover or Easter wines yet?

I’m A Covenant Convert

Unfortunately, as I’m putting together this year’s Passover wine list, I haven’t seen major kosher wine sales from any of the big online wine stores.  This means that I’m not going to be as fortunate as I was in the Fall when Lot18 offered an impressive listing of Covenant Wines at nice discounts—both the main label Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as the second label Red C Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc were available.  I couldn’t have been more excited.   My first experience with Covenant Wines was in May 2011 when I reviewed the 2009 Lavan Chardonnay, and what a Chardonnay it was.  After tasting that wine, I knew I had to try their others, and the Lot18 listing was the perfect opportunity.  So, for the 2011 High Holidays, I bought everything Lot18 had to offer, but I was most excited about the Cabernet Sauvignon (I’m glad I take very detailed notes, since I’m obviously behind on blogging about this wine!).

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Covenant Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2007 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was a deep purple hinting towards ruby with some iridescence on the rim.  On the nose, there was smoke and cedar with some hints of dark plums, menthol, and nutmeg.  In the mouth, there was smoke, cedar, dark plums, cherries, and a touch of nutmeg.  The wine had medium-to-full body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At $70, this wine was definitely not an everyday wine, but its lush silkiness is worth the splurge for a special occasion or for one of those nights where you just know you want something a little extra in your wine.

I actually enjoyed this wine over a two-day period.  The first was a Saturday night with a couple of my wine ladies, as one of them was celebrating her birthday.  It was the first kosher wine either of them had ever tasted.  Both ladies admitted to associating kosher wine low quality, sweet wine, and then quickly followed the comment up with the fact that they would never have guessed the Covenant Cab was a kosher wine because of their preconceived expectations.  In fact, they both agreed it was one of the best Cabernets either of them had ever tasted.

The second night I spent with this wine was a Sunday evening at home, full of blogging, knitting, and watching Boardwalk Empire.  This is clearly a wine the benefited from a little breathing time, as it was even more enjoyable on the second night.  Each sip was so seductive, it just left me wanting more.

So, if you’re looking for an amazing Cabernet and don’t mind digging a little deeper into your wallet, this is a wine that won’t disappoint.  I didn’t have the chance to pair it with food, but it’s a food-friendly wine that could transition nicely into an evening on the couch while digesting and gabbing.  All the way around, it’s worth overlooking the cost and giving it try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Question of the Day: What price range are you comfortable hitting for a “splurge” wine?  Do you approach shopping for those splurge wines differently than you approach shopping for an everyday wine?

Price: $70
Purchased at Lot18
Overall: 5 Corks