Levo Mint – A Sexy California Red

Monday, February 13 was one of those days that got a late start, so it fooled me. I had some emails to answer before my 10:30am staff meeting, but all seemed quiet…until it wasn’t. Halfway through the staff meeting, my email started to blow up. From there, I spent much of my day running from congressional office to congressional office, meeting with staff on a vote that was announced for that week. I enjoy the busy days, but this one shifted from busy to chaotic, which isn’t quite as fun. The benefit of having email on my phone, though, is that once things moved back from chaotic to busy, I was able to make it to my spin class before heading home to open a bottle of wine and pack for my work trip to Nashville.

2013 Levo Mint – At $36, this red wine from California is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. It’s big and bold enough to enjoy on its own, while turning sultry when paired with food. It’s a luscious wine that will call into question your self-restraint, but leave you with no regrets. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Levo Mint

The 2013 Levo Mint (winery) is a red wine blend from California. On the nose, there were blackberries and cigars mixed with hints of black cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, there were blackberries and black cherries with a cigar box and hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The wine was medium-to-ful bodied with medium tannins and high acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $36, this is an incredibly sexy wine that is worth every penny. I sipped away at my first glass while packing for my trip. And, while it was delicious, the wine only got better from there. I paired the second glass with Hubby’s slow cooker BBQ pork and grits. There was something about the BBQ that enhanced the depth and smokiness of the wine, making the meal sultry and delicious. I couldn’t get enough. Admittedly, the third glass was just gluttonous, but I was enjoying it too much to have self restraint. All in all, it was a wine worth the indulgence.

November 2016's Wine Bloggers' Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment | AGlassAfterWork.com

November 2016’s Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club shipment

As a side note, the Levo Mint was one of three wines I received as part of “The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club.” This wine club is just $99, and 50% of the profits are donated back to the WBC Scholarship Fund. The scholarship helps wine bloggers attend the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference, which long-time readers know I think is an invaluable experience for every wine blogger.  The wine club also has a private Facebook group and, since several participants are also wine bloggers there are a number of people blogging about, tweeting about, and holding live tastings of these wines.  So, if you wanted to add a social component to your membership, there are many ways to do that.

So far, I’ve been in love with every wine I’ve received through the club. There are four shipments of three wines from boutique California wineries (we’ve received two shipments/six wines). If you’re looking for an inexpensive, charitable wine club that is going to give you some truly fantastic wines that you probably wouldn’t know about on your own…this is the wine club for you.  Check it out!

Question of the Day: Do you drink wines or belong to wine clubs that donate some of the profits to charity? Do those donations make you more likely to buy the wine or join the club?

Price: $36
Purchased at The Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks

A Mumm Grande Année to Kickoff a Great Year

Hawaii 2017 photo collate

Top: hubby and me on the balcony of our room at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa on the Big Island before heading out to our 10-year anniversary dinner at the Kona Inn Restaurant; bottom left: reading in the pool and drinking a Maui Brewing Company Big Swell IPA at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa; bottom right: me at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

I know I’m more than a month behind with this, but…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2017 is a big year in the A Glass After Work household because not only did Hubby and I celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary in January, but also I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in May. And, we started the festivities right away with 12-day vacation in Hawaii for our anniversary followed by a half marathon and party weekend in New Orleans for Hubby’s birthday. In fact, since the start of the year, we’ve spent almost as much time at home as we have traveling, and I’m off again to Nashville for work next week. So, 2017 is off to a crazy start, which is why I’ve been slow about posting. However, there are a lot of fun things to share! With that, let’s talk wine…

Hubby and I stayed in for New Year’s Eve. With all the upcoming travel, we thought a quiet night in while drinking some good bubbly with a cheese and charcuterie board and tasty hors d’oeuvres was what we needed. In honor of our 10-year wedding anniversary and all the exciting things that 2017 has in store, the 2007 Mumm Napa Grande Année seemed like the right choice.

2007 Mumm Grande Année – At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this sparkling wine from California is a special one and worth the splurge. It’s the right balance of flirty and serious, of flavor and bubbles. This bubbly is a beautiful sipper that can be enjoyed on its own over intimate conversation or with a romantic, candlelit dinner. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2007 Mumm Grande Année

The 2007 Mumm Grande Année (winery) is a sparkling wine from Napa Valley, California and is made with 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay grapes. The bubbly had a light golden color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles. On the nose, there were limes, as well as a hint of baked pear and vanilla. In the mouth, there were limes and green apples mixed with hints of raspberries and cream. The sparkler had a light-to-medium body and nice acidity that kept the wine fresh without being overpowering.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this bubbly is a special one and worth the splurge. That said, it’s actually only available to Club Vivant members through the winery, so that will make it harder to get. However, if you have a chance to grab a bottle, you should. It will bring a smile to your lips as you take your first sip, and whoever you’re sharing with will appreciate the flirtatiousness and drinkability of this sparkler.

As for our night with the Grande Année? It was the perfect sparkler for us. Hubby has started to drink a little, so he indulged in a couple of glasses, and what he found particularly pleasing was that this sparkling wine was flavorful without being overpowered by alcohol. We both thought the bubbly was a beautiful sipper on its own, while also being a nice pairing wine. The acidity and bubbles countered the fattiness from the homemade Mexican chicken and cheese dip, while complimenting the flavors of the Cherry Glen Silver goat and Truffle Gouda cow cheeses. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2017.

Here is hoping this is a “Grande Année” for you all…cheers!

Question of the Day: How is 2017 starting for you? Have you enjoyed any particularly delicious wines, beers, or cocktails?

Price: $64
Purchased at Mumm Napa website
Overall: 4.5 Corks

A Storybook Zin for a Not-So-Storybook Day

The first week back at work after vacation is always rough, but last week was particularly so for me. Not only had I spent 10 days out of the office hardly checking email, but also I had already spent more than half of August traveling (some work, some personal) because Congress was on recess for 7 weeks. The pace of work and life had been so much slower, and I was settling into it. But, the start of September also meant the restarting of a frenetic pace. I was averaging 8-10 meetings a day with congressional staff, not counting my internal work meetings and conference calls that started up again now that work is in full swing. Not that any of it’s bad. In fact, despite the chaos, things at work are going really well. However, by the time last Friday hit, I was a combination of wound up tight and exhausted. When I walked in the door, I went straight for a bottle I knew would make me smile and shrug off the stress of the week.

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve – At $68, this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special.  It’s luscious, inviting, and absolutely lovely…the type of wine you just want to sink into.  Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Estate Reserve Zinfandel

The 2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve (winery) is from Napa Valley, California. The wine was a dark ruby with hints of purple. On the nose, there were blackberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hints of cedar. In the mouth, there were blackberries, blueberries, and baking spices mixed with something floral and cedar. The wine had a medium-to-full body, acid, and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $68 (or $61.20 if you belong to the wine club like I do), this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special. It’s luscious and inviting, the type of wine you just want to sink into and enjoy.

I sipped on my first glass while sitting in the living room talking with Hubby about our respective days. The second glass was an amazing accompaniment to Hubby’s burgers with applewood smoked cheddar and polenta fries. And, the third glass, well, that was for snuggling up on couch with an afghan and my book, and I couldn’t have had a better wine for that.

I didn’t end up finishing the bottle on Friday night, and I had two glasses left for Saturday night. The wine it didn’t pair well with dinner (my fault, not the wine’s), but on it’s own, it continued to be absolutely lovely…possibly better on night two than on night one. All in all, it was an outstanding choice to enjoy a Friday night while ushering in the next busy season at work.

Question of the Day: Do you do anything special or have any rituals to help get back into “work mode” after vacation?  

Price: $68 (or $61.20 for wine club members)
Purchased at Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2) – Sparkling Pinot & Snow

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir – At $35, this sparkling red wine from California is food-friendly and easy to drink. It’s worth considering the next time you have a dinner party, are hosting a holiday meal, or are looking to curl up on the couch with a delicious bottle of something different. Rating 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 1 , Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

Something about snowy weather makes me want to drink red wine, but since Snowzilla was such a unique occasion in DC, I also really wanted to drink something special and unique. That’s why, on the second day of Snowzilla, I decided to open Mumm’s Sparkling Pinot Noir.

Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir (winery) is a sparking red wine made in Napa Valley, California with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. The wine had a deep ruby red color with flecks of purple and a nice purple fizz top when it was poured. On the noise, there were plums and cherries mixed with a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, there were plums and cherries mixed with cloves and cinnamon, a hint of creaminess, and some chocolate dust. The wine had small persistent bubbles, medium tannins, and good acidity.

Snowzilla Day 2 - Me walking into the front yard in the evening to discover we had 22 inches of snow

Snowzilla Day 2 – Me walking into the front yard in the evening to discover we had 22 inches of snow

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $35, this wine is both delicious and an interesting conversation piece, so it’s worth the extra effort of going to the winery’s website to buy it (that’s the only place it can be purchased). Most people haven’t tasted a red sparkling wine, and if they have, it was most likely a sparkling Shiraz from Australia or a Lambrusco from Italy. This is not like either, although it’s more comparable to a Lambrusco.  The Mumm Sparkling Pinot is balanced with deep flavor and a hint of sweetness, while also being crisp and refreshing.

Snowzilla cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster crackers

Snowzilla cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster crackers

I enjoyed this wine throughout the day. I opened it to go with an after-shoveling snack of cheese, charcuterie, and Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers. The wine tasted like it was made to go with the prosciutto. Both the bubbles and the acidity helped cut through the fattiness of the meat, while the flavors of the wine complimented the flavors of the prosciutto. Not to mention that I couldn’t have asked for a better cheese to eat with the wine than the truffle gouda because the earthiness of the cheese brought out the deeper flavors of the wine.

Hubby's slow cooker chili and Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

Hubby’s slow cooker chili and Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir

For dinner, I drank the wine with Hubby’s crockpot chili. Admittedly, the sparkler was a touch better with charcuterie and cheese earlier in the day, but it held up nicely with the heaviness of chili, especially because the touch of sweetness from the wine balanced out the little bit of spiciness from the chili.

All in all, the Mumm Sparkling Pinot Noir was the perfect bottle to enjoy through the day, whether it was with food or in front of the fire knitting. It was an easy sipper that offered something a little different. And, while I enjoyed it during a winter snowstorm, because it’s so food-friendly and easy to drink, this wine is also worth considering the next time you are having a dinner party or hosting a holiday meal.

Question of the Day: What are your thoughts on red sparkling wine?

Price: $35
Purchased at Mumm Napa
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Snowzilla Day 1: A Few Inches and a Bouchaine Cabernet

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 -- Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 — Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2)Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

As Monday January 18 started, so did the rumblings that DC might get a really big snowstorm at the end of the week. In fact, everyone was so focused on Friday’s impending storm that very little attention was paid to the 1-3 inches that were predicted for mid-week. Thankfully, I walk to work, so I wasn’t one of the unfortunate Washingtonians who had more than a 7-hour drive home on icy, untreated roads, but I definitely heard the stories. The debacle of Wednesday started panic about what was in store for the more than 2 feet of snow that was expected later in the week. By the time Friday rolled around, my office decided we could all work from home in the morning and then we would close in the afternoon when the federal government closed.

The snow started around 1:30pm, and by the time we did our last shoveling of the night, there were still only a few inches on the ground. However, like most Washingtonians, we were prepared for Snowzilla. We made sure there was enough “snow day” type food, but also some well-planned out wine options. On that first night, Hubby made homemade tomato sauce with brown rice pasta, and I opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from one of my wine clubs that I’d been saving.

2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – At $70, this small production red wine from is a great option for special occasions. It’s easy to drink, very food friendly, and incredibly delicious. Cheers! Ratings 5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comThe 2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is from the Combsville area of Napa, California. The wine was a deep purple color. On the nose, there were a lot of dark fruits–black plums, blackberries, and black cherries–mixed with a hint of baking spices. In the mouth, there were black plums and cherries mixed with cinnamon and hints of nutmeg and smoke. The wine was full bodied with good acid and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $70, there is no doubt that this wine is expensive, but it’s also absolutely delicious. Only 505 cases were produced, so it’s small production, and it’s a wine that is very enjoyable now, but also has enough structure and flavor that it could be cellared for at least another 5 years. Unfortunately, when I went to go buy another couple of bottles to hold onto for a while, it looks like the winery is already sold out.

Spaghetti and sauce for Snowzilla night 1The wine was one I drank leisurely through the first night of the blizzard. It was a nice accompaniment to Hubby’s homemade sauce, and it was the perfect for cuddling up on the couch in front of a fire after our last round of shoveling for the night.

Overall, at this price range, this is a special occasion type of wine. And, if you’re looking for that special bottle, particularly one to go with a hearty meal or vibrant conversation, this is a wine you should consider.

Question of the Day:  Do you live in an area that gets a lot of snow?  Is alcohol something that you stock up on in your snowstorm preparations?  What’s your go-to snow day choice?

Price: $70
Purchased at Bouchaine Vineyards Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks