Aug 172012
 

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

I admit it.  All day yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that I should be on my way to Portland, Oregon for the 2012 Wine Bloggers’ Conference.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I wouldn’t be attending, and while I know it’s for a good reason, as I start to see the #wbc12 tweets roll in, I’m sad that I won’t be joining my fellow bloggers this year.  My mood probably explains why, when I walked in the door of the condo last night and saw I had a wine package with some bubbly, I immediately put in the refrigerator so it would be cold enough to enjoy by dinnertime.  And enjoy it I did.

Voveti Prosecco

Voveti Prosecco

The Voveti Prosecco (wine) is from Italy and is made with 100% Prosecco grapes.  The sparkler had a light lemon color.  On the nose, there were Granny Smith apples, Asian pears, and the slightest hint of honeysuckle and yeast.  In the mouth, there were Granny Smith apples, Asian pears, and a hint of peaches and foamy cream.  The wine had a light 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 an SRP of $17, that about pushes the edges of how much I would spend on this sparkling wine, although it was very versatile and enjoyable.  I sipped it while reading with my feet on the couch before dinner, and it even paired nicely with the broiled tilapia Hubby made.  The fish was lightly seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano, so it’s probably not surprising that the Italian sparkler was a nice, not overpowering compliment to the meal.  All in all, it didn’t quite make up for the fact that I was at home instead of in Oregon, but it was exactly what I needed to make me not miss the Wine Bloggers’ Conference quite so much.

Question of the Day: Do you open a sparkling wine in the middle of the week or is it the type of wine you save for special occasions?

Suggested Retail Price: $17
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Mar 232012
 

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?

Dec 292011
 

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

For some reason, it always seems that Hubby and I go through job instability at the same time.  Instability comes with the territory of my job, so it’s something we accept and prepare for, and we learned back in September that I might lose my job after the New Year.  Hubby’s career is generally a more stable one, though…or at least it should be.

As long time readers know, the last company Hubby was with sold, and he ended up unemployed for several months in 2010 before being offered his current position.  Well, right after Thanksgiving and only two months after Hubby’s 1-year anniversary with the new company, it also went through a sale.  While it’s wonderful that he is a good luck charm for the investors he works for, the sale was a bit of a surprise and more than half of his company was laid off immediately.  That obviously put us both on edge.  As the day unfolded, Hubby kept me up-to-date with emails and texts, and by the end of the day, Hubby had been asked to stay and the dust started to settle.  Truthfully, he probably needed a glass after work more than I did, although he didn’t actually have one.  Knowing that he wasn’t going to be laid off while we are waiting to hear what my job future is definitely called for a bit sparkling wine, though!

Valdo ProseccoThe Valdo Prosecco (website) had a pale lemon yellow color with a lot of small bubbles that created a thin, festive rim of foam on the top.  On the nose, there were lemons, grapefruits and a hint of apples , pears, and yeast.  In the mouth, there was lemon custard, grapefruit, and pear mixed with a subtle yeastiness.  This bubbly had a surprising heft, with a light-to-medium body 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 a SRP of $12, this sparkling wine had a nice quality-price ratio.  It was a solidly delicious bubbly that I enjoyed on its own, although I think it would also make nice mimosas or Bellinis.  In this case, though, the sparkler was a good way to sigh in relief that Hubby survived his company’s layoffs.

Suggested Retail Price: $12
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Sep 302011
 

When Congress is in recess, work is usually a little quieter for me.  Not that it isn’t busy, but it’s the normal type of busy that means coming into work at 9, leaving at 5, and feeling like there is the possibility of actually accomplishing most of the things on my to-do list.  Wednesday, though, was not one of those days, despite the fact that we were in recess.  In fact, from the moment I walked in the door, there was a never-ending flow of emails, phone calls, and meetings.  Plus, I had to squeeze it all into a slightly shortened work-day, as I needed enough time to Metro home, grab the car, and head to synagogue in time for the start of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).

I love this time of year! It’s a chance to reconnect with family and friends.  It’s a chance to reflect on the good and bad aspects of the last year.  And, it holds the promise for what’s to come in the New Year.  The fact that it coincides with the change from Summer to Fall, the start of the school year (although I no longer attend), and harvest time (apples and grapes alike) emphasizes the feeling of new beginnings for me.  That is probably why I look forward to the High Holy Days so much, and it’s certainly why I bought a bottle of kosher bubbly specifically to open on the first night of the new Jewish Year—5772!  What would a New Year’s celebration be without sparkling wine?

Borgo Reale Prosecco.

Borgo Reale Prosecco.

The Borgo Reale Prosecco (winery, snooth) had a pale golden yellow color with a nice, lively bubbles.  On the nose, there were citrus and yeast aromas that were followed by the slightest hint of apple.  In the mouth, there were lemons and apples, with a touch of yeast and nuts.  The sparkly had a light-to-medium body and 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 $18, this Prosecco was a fun way to usher in the New Year.  It paired nicely with the mahi mahi Hubby made to help me celebrate, and continued to be enjoyable as I drank it on its own while knitting and watching to TV later in the night.  The wine was most enjoyable, though, when I combined it with a little OJ to make a mimosa.  All in all, if you’re looking for a kosher sparkling wine, particularly one to bring to a Passover Seder or Rosh Hashanah dinner, this is definitely a bubbly worth checking out.  If you’re just looking for a Prosecco, there are other ones out there in this price range that are just as food friendly and a little more enjoyable.

Question of the Day: What holidays or time of year do you look forward to?

To everyone who is celebrating, may you and yours have a sweet, healthy, and happy 5772!  L’ Shana Tovah!

Price: $18
Purchased at Wine Chateau
Overall: 3 Corks

Jan 302011
 

I ended up working the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and oddly enough, as the week has progressed, more and more of my coworkers returned to work.  What started out as a ghost town on Monday became a practically crowded office by Thursday.  Admittedly, much of the day was spent catching with the coworkers on a week’s worth of holiday festivities, travel war stories, and DC’s Flurrypocolapse 2010—the snow storm that never hit DC.  However, by mid-afternoon, people started drifting out, so I joined them with the hope of running a few errands and getting a quick run my planned New Year’s Eve-Eve get together with five ladies in my building.  And what would a New Year’s Eve-Eve gathering be without bubbly?  So, we each brought a bottle of sparkling wine to share, along with a few fun things to snack on throughout the evening.

Althea
$14
Prosecco
Greenish-yellow
Nectarines and limes
Very dry, not sweet, refreshing, and absolutely gorgeous
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Louis Bouillot Blanc de Blancs
$15
95% Chardonnay and 5% Aligoté grapes
Medium lemon, lots of persistent bubbles
Peaches and grapefruits
Yeasty, bubbly goodness
Overall: 4 Corks

Cupcake Vineyards (winery, snooth)
$10
Prosecco
I actually enjoyed this bottle more than the one I opened earlier in the week.  This bottle had significantly more bubbles, while maintaining the fun taste I found in the other bottle.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Louis Bouillot Rosé
$15
Crémant de Bourgogne
80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay grapes
Light salmon, some small persistent bubbles, touch cloudy
Strawberries, raspberries, limes, herbs, touch of toast
Dry, light body,
nice
Overall: 3 Corks

1+1=3 (winery, snooth)
$14
Cava
45% Xarel-lo, 30% Parellada, and 25% Macabeo grapes
Medium-to-dark gold
Almonds, coconut…reminded me a little of a sparkling sherry
Dry, medium body
Different, by not my style
Overall: 2.5 Corks

I’m a little late in saying this, but HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Dec 292010
 

Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco

This was a very quiet week at work.  Most of my coworkers took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so on Monday I was the only one in the office for most of the day.  Since the office manager knew I would be around, he asked me to answer the phones.  Needless to say, that turned out to be an interesting experience.  Thankfully, there were only three phone calls, as that saved me the embarrassment of accidentally hanging up on a caller while trying to transfer him/her into voicemail, but the couple of phone class that came in were the type of calls that made me happy I was just filling in.  All in all, the fact that it was so quiet meant that I was able to catch up on some of the emails in my inbox that I didn’t have a chance to answer before Christmas.  By the time I arrived home, I was ready for a relaxing evening with some bubbly to help put me in a New Year’s state of mind.

The Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco (winery, snooth) was a very light straw colored yellow, almost to the point of looking like seltzer water.  On the nose, there were limes, peaches, and nectarines.  In the mouth, there were limes, limes, and more limes, followed by a touch of grapefruit and nectarines.  The sparkler had a light-to-medium body and was more fizzy than bubbly.

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 $10, this Prosecco was very tasty, but could have used more bubbles.  With a few more bubbles, this sparkling wine could have been my new go-to, everyday sparkler, but it just didn’t have the amount of bubbles I was looking for to be anything more than just average.  That said, it was perfect for enjoying several glasses of bubbly after work while watching re-runs of True Blood and Tweeting with some friends, but it’s not a sparkling wine I would recommend opening to celebrate the New Year or a special occasion.

Price: $10
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Overall:  3 Corks

Apr 052010
 

Wednesday was a particularly quiet day, as many people decided to get an early start to the long weekend.  My inbox was slow, my phone was quiet, and I even had a chance to meet some former coworkers for lunch.  I left work at a normal hour, feeling like I’d accomplished a decent amount during the day, all without the being rushed.  The best part of the day was that I was home early enough to pop open some kosher bubbly and make matzah lasagna for dinner.

Bellenda Prosecco

The Bellenda Prosecco (winery, snooth) was a dark lemon color with good, big bubbles.  On the nose, there were pears, apricots, peaches, and grilled pineapples that smelled as if they were soaking in apple juice.  In the mouth, there were apples and pears on the attack, but the flavor fell off almost immediately, leaving a chalk dust and basil aftertaste behind.  The sparkler had medium acidity and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $20, this Prosecco tasted more like sparkling apple cider than it did like sparkling wine.  While it’s hard to find a decent kosher sparkling wine, the kosher wine industry has made such drastic improvements in the quality of wine that is produced, it seems a shame to settle for a sparkler that just doesn’t live up the expectations.

Overall: 2 corks

Dec 232009
 

Last Wednesday was my condo associations’ big holiday party—the Bubbly & BBQ Bash. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve written up several wines (here, here, and here) that I decided against having at the party for a variety of reasons. It should be no surprise that several readers have contacted me to ask if I planned on sharing what sparkling wines I finally decided to offer, and of course I plan to share! I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to share sparkling wines, particularly since they are my admitted weakness.

As the association’s social committee chairperson, it was my job to plan all aspects of the party, not just the wine. Last year, we had Red, Hot, & Blue BBQ, which was a huge success. Up until that time, it was our largest community party and there were hardly any leftovers. I decided that there was no reason to mess with a good thing, so Red, Hot, & Blue was on the menu again this year. The challenge came with finding the sparkling wine because, to be honest, bubbly isn’t exactly what comes to mine when you think about eating BBQ. However, it’s a surprisingly good pairing and all the residents were thrilled. We had more people at this year’s holiday party than ever before!

As I researched sparklers for the evening, I was looking for two types of wines—ones that would act as good palette cleansers and ones that would pair well with the food itself. I also wanted wines that were a variety of price ranges and were fairly easy to find. I wrote up festive tasting notes, with a picture of each bottle’s label in order to make it easier for anyone who wished to purchase the wines at any of our local wine stores. In the end, we offered 6 sparkling wines—2 Champagnes, 2 Cavas, 1 Prosecco, and 1 California sparkling wine. I rated all of the wines with 4 corks or above, and they are all bottles that I drink in my own house.

The 2 Champagnes were fairly traditional—Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut NV (5 corks) and Montaudon Extra-Dry (4.5 corks). The Veuve Clicquot was one of the favorites of the night, although the Montaudon was not far behind. The fresh, brightness of both helped awaken taste buds between the pulled pork and pulled chicken.

The 2 Cavas were Segura Viudas Brut Reserve (4 corks) and Mont-Ferrant Brut Rosé (4 corks). The Segura Viudas, which I’ve reviewed before, served as a palette cleanser and the Mont-Ferrant was a nice accompaniment with the BBQ. As a heavier sparkling wine, the Mont-Ferrant has enough body and complexity that it didn’t get lost in the strong flavors of the BBQ, but rather added a nice, almost fruity compliment. It was definitely the sparkling wine that caused the most discussion, as people either absolutely loved it or hated it. The people who loved it seemed to come back for more at the expense of drinking the other wines and the people who hated it dumped it out after a few sips.

The Prosecco—Canella Prosecco di Conegliano (4.5 corks)—is another wine that I’ve reviewed in the past. This sparkler has a beautiful fruitiness that, when combined with its crisp acidity, worked well as an apéritif.

Finally, the California sparkling wine—Korbel Brut Rosé—was a nice, light rosé that both complimented the BBQ or was enjoyable once finished eating.

It’s a slight departure from my usual presentation, but in the spirit of the holidays, here are images of the tasting notes we used.







Dec 222009
 

Last Monday was the beginning of a slower period at work, which, I admit, was a huge relief. I’m not entirely sure how I started a new job and immediately felt like I had fallen behind in my work, but that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, with things slowing down a little, I finally had the time to start playing catch-up. By the time I left work on Monday night, I was feeling like I’d accomplished a lot and that I was ready to go home and put the finishing touches on my take-home final before lighting the Chanukkah candles, tasting the last bubbly to try before my condo association’s holiday Bubbly & BBQ Bash, and enjoying a nice dinner with Hubby.

The La Tordera Valdobbiadene Prosecco (winery, snooth) was almost clear, it was such a light, straw yellow. The bubbles in the glass were big, bountiful, and beautiful. On the nose, there were grapefruits, lemons, and yeast, followed by a touch of white peaches and white flowers. In the mouth, there were slightly under-ripe white peaches, lemons, white blossoms, and a hint of nectarines on the finish. The sparkler had a nice, crisp acidity and a light-to-medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely! If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $18, this Prosecco was surprisingly complex, fresh, and fruity. I enjoyed drinking it on its own, but when I paired it with flounder stuffed with spinach and feta, it was absolutely gorgeous. I admit that I didn’t end up using this sparkling wine for the Bubbly & BBQ Bash, but that was because it was a little harder to find than the Canella Prosecco di Conegliano, which I ended up using because I really wanted to provide sparklers that could be easily purchased. That said, if you see the La Tordera, don’t pass up the opportunity to taste it. It will be the perfect addition to any brunch, particularly mixed to make a Bellini/mimosa, or to a relaxing evening after a hard day of work. A special thanks to Schneider’s of Capitol Hill for recommending this great wine.

Overall: 4.5 Corks

Dec 142009
 

This time of year is generally a period of craziness at work and at home. At work, there’s usually an end-of-the-year push to finish major projects before we enter a 4-week slow period. At the same time, there are also work-related holiday parties almost every night, so while work pulls in one direction, the social aspects of my job pull in another. None of that even begins to take into account the personal parties that Hubby and I are invited to, so with all of the work and festivities, life quickly gets complicated. Last week was a particularly busy one because my largest project since starting the new job was due Thursday. Fortunately, on Tuesday, I had a good, solid day of work and was able to make significant progress before heading home at a not-too-late hour. I used the evening to focus on planning my condo association’s holiday party—a Bubbly & BBQ Bash. Of course part of planning means tasting all of the sparkling wine before purchasing it in large quantities, and what better way to spend the later part of my evening than tasting Prosecco.

The Vignal Prosecco la Delizia (winery) ­­was a medium lemon color with surprisingly few bubbles that streamed up to the top of my glass in a slowly rising, single column. One the nose, there were apricots and peaches mixed with an artificial lemon scent. In the mouth, the sparkler was fizzy instead of bubbly and tasted like licking a lemon-scented handi-wipe, with the slightest hint of nectarines and peaches on the finish.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $12, this Prosecco wasn’t expensive, but it also wasn’t very good. I was really glad that I tasted this sparkler before the Bubbly & BBQ Bash, since there are other Proseccos at the same price point that I think would be more enjoyable and a better match with Red, Hot, and Blue’s traditional smokehouse Southern BBQ. Don’t get me wrong, I finished the bottle, but I prefer less handi-wipe flavors and more intense bubbles and fruit characteristics in my Prosecco.

Overall: 2 Corks