LangeTwins and Lasagna

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

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola – At $20, this sustainably-made red wine from California is good on its own, and absolutely shines as the perfect pairing for meat lasagna. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola

Four Sundays ago, Hubby and I were preparing for the first day of his first cycle of chemotherapy. He was recovering from a bone marrow biopsy and having a PICC line put in his arm in few days earlier. I did the meal planning, grocery shopping, and yard work, all chores he and I normally would have done together but are my responsibility for the time being. With both of us feeling anxious about starting chemo, as well as being physically and mentally exhausted, I decided to make homemade meat lasagna to bolster us for the following day while also giving us enough leftovers to both eat later in the week and freeze. And, nothing says comfort food perfection like pairing the lasagna with a Nero d’Avola.

The 2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola (website, snooth) is from Lodi, California and made with 100% Nero d’Avola grapes. The wine had a medium ruby color. On the nose, there were raspberries and black cherries mixed with a hint of something floral. In the mouth, there were dark plums and black cherries mixed with wet dirt. The wine was medium-to-full bodied with medium-to-full tannins and acid.

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola – At $20, this sustainably-made red wine from California is good on its own, and absolutely shines as the perfect pairing for meat lasagna. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 LangeTwins Family Winery Nero d’Avola with my meat lasagna

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, this wine is the epitome of a delicious food wine. While I enjoyed the wine on its own, it didn’t initially blow me away. However, when paired with the lasagna, the combination was everything I hoped it would be. The wine mellowed a little, complimenting the food without overpowering it. Hubby and I spent a lot of time talking over dinner that night, as you can probably imagine, and the combination of the lasagna and the LangeTwins Nero d’Avola was as close to a fortifying, warm hug as can be experienced from food and wine.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite wine to pair with lasagna?

And for some other blogger thoughts on the wine:

Suggested Retail Price: $20
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?

Bartinney’s Cab is a Captivating Dark Angel

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

Halfway through 2015, work changed our vacation policies, leaving me with vacation days left that I needed to use by the end of the year or I would lose them. But, with the fall being as busy as it was at work, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the vacation days. Instead, I waited until December. After the legislation I had been working on since 2007 was signed into law on December 10, I began closing things out for the year, and my last day of work in 2015 was December 17. Unfortunately, since Hubby has been at his job for less than 3 years, he still doesn’t have much vacation time. So, instead of escaping DC at the end of the month, I had a 16-day staycation. On December 30, towards the end of my staycation, I scheduled a spa day for myself. After a day of much needed pampering to close out the year, I came home to open up a big red wine with the idea of just sinking into it for the evening.

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon - This $20 red wine from South Africa is food-friendly, captivating, and the perfect glass of wine to end a work day.  Rating = 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Helshoogte (“Hell’s Heights”) Pass, overlooking the Banghoek Valley. The wine was a deep purplish ruby color. On the nose, there were plums and blackberries mixed with a hint of tea leaves, mint, chocolate, and cedar. In the mouth, there were dark plums and blackberries with hints of spice, black tea, and cedar. The wine was full-bodied with strong tannins and medium 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 an SRP of $20, this wine delivers everything I look for in an everyday Cabernet…and I was surprised. While I love South African wines, I tend to gravitate towards the wines that are more unique to the country like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, and this Cabernet is proof as to why I shouldn’t do that. It’s an affordable wine that was the perfect way of ending a day of spoiling myself, but without breaking the bank to do so.

Question of the Day: Do you drink wine from South Africa?  If so, are their certain types of South African wine that you gravitate towards?

Suggested Retail Price: $20
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

A Super Superbowl Red Wine

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

Rib Shack Red CapNeither Hubby nor I are big football fans, so Superbowl Sunday around our house tends to be just another Sunday.  This year, though, I think I spent too much time browsing Pintrest and Facebook because when we went grocery shopping on the Saturday morning before the big game, I told Hubby we needed to make crockpot chili.  I blame all those Pintrest pictures of delicious looking Superbowl-themed appetizers and all my friends who spent the football season bragging about how their houses were filled with the wonderful aromas of slow-cooking chili.  I just needed Superbowl food, even without the actual Superbowl.  So, Hubby indulged my request, making the best chili I’ve ever had, while I baked some cornbread and opened a bottle of red wine.

The 2012 Rib Shack Red (winery) is from the Western Cape in South Africa and is made with 60% Pinotage and 40% Merlot grapes.  The wine was a dark ruby with flecks of purple.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cedar, and cumin with the slightest hint of nail polish.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, and smoke with hints of cumin and vanilla.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

2012 Rib Shack Red

2012 Rib Shack Red

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At a SRP of $10, the quality-price ratio on this wine is difficult to beat.  Admittedly, on its own, Rib Shack Red is a solidly average wine—good, but nothing that stands apart from other wines.  Paired with food (particularly red meat), though, this wine just sings.  Whether it’s something straight from the smoker, a juicy burger off the grill, or Hubby’s spicy slow-cooker chili, this is definitely the wine I want.  Our condo building has a holiday party every year that is catered by Red, Hot, and Blue BBQ, and since I’m in charge of the wine, I can tell you 9 months in advance that the Rib Shack Red will be making appearance in 2014.  It’s structured, food-friendly, and beautiful.  It’s affordable, but still good quality.  And, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, the grapes are all sustainably grown.  What more could I ask for in an everyday wine?

Question of the Day: I know it’s a little more than a month ago, but did you watch the Superbowl?  Did you go for wine, beer, or something else?

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby's chili...the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby’s chili…the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

A Spirit Hawk Chardonnay to Lift the Spirits

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

If I’m being honest, even though I absolutely love my job, there are bad days at work.  Sometimes, really bad days.  January 30th was one of those days.  The organization I work for has been very involved in the Common Core State Standards debate, but as I prefer to avoid the actual politics of Common Core, I’ll spare everyone the specifics.  What I will say is that in a short amount of time, my morning went from being fairly calm to completely blowing up.  My email inbox was filling up rapidly with questions about what was actually happening, yet the folks I needed answers from “outside the building” had gone dead quiet.  There was an emergency internal meeting to make sure all efforts were coordinated, which meant my going back and forth across town from my office to the headquarters building.  I had a short turn-around time to review a press statement, and then a little while later similarly short turn-around to review a blog post that was ready to go live.  The whole time, I was trying to calm everyone day, explain that there was no need to overreact.  But, the frenzy was well underway and my attempt at reason fell on deaf ears.  Everything became a fire drill.

2011 Lander-Jenkins Vineyards Spirit Hawk Chardonnay

2011 Lander-Jenkins Vineyards Spirit Hawk Chardonnay

The 2011 Spirit Hawk Chardonnay  (winery) is made from 100% sustainably grown grapes from vineyards in the North Coast, Monterey County, and Central Valley of California.  The wine was a bright, Mt. Dew yellow.  On the nose, there were apricots and pineapples mixed with hints of honey and butter.  In the mouth, the wine was full of peaches, apricots, pineapples, and honey with a hint of vanilla and buttered toast.  The wine is full-bodied with good 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 of wine.  At an SRP of $15, this wine is nicely balanced and enjoyable even without offering something unusual.  Normally, I prefer Chardonnays that either are  over-the-top oak monster, full of buttery popcorn and cliches about California wine or are clean, crisp wines that let the more subtle aspects of the grape sing.  The Spirit Hawk is neither.  It’s a wine that has definitely seen some oak, so it has a full-body that  hints at vanilla and butter, while still maintaining a balanced acidity that keeps it fresh and food-friendly.  By offering a little of both, it’s a wine that I would happily serve to others.

As for my night with the Spirit Hawk, admittedly, my first glass was almost finished by the time Hubby finished making dinner.  I spent the entire time, tasting the wine and talking his ear off about my rough workday.  By the time we sat down for dinner, I was settled into the wine and my evening.  The Spirit Hawk paired nicely with the grilled shrimp seasoned with Old Bay and olive oil and the mixed coastal blend veggies that Hubby made.  All around the wine, dinner, and company were exactly what I needed to unwind.

Question of the Day: Are you a Chardonnay drinker?  Do you prefer the bigger, bolder, buttery Chards or the clean, crisp ones?

Suggested Retail Price: $15
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3 Corks