Wine of the Week: 2014 Mollydooker Blue-Eyed Boy

2014 Mollydooker Blue-Eyed Boy

2014 Mollydooker Blue-Eyed Boy

When a friend like the amazing Lesley Desautels presents you with a bottle of wine there are two things you know for sure: #1 it’s going to be a great wine, and #2 you are about to experience something memorable. And so it was. A little about Lesley. At the very least, she has traveled the world, visited numerous vignerons—is friends with some of the most famous—managed one of Maryland’s finest restaurants (Linwood) and most recently was a member of the Vino Volo team. This girl knows her wine. For Christmas 2015, Lesley gave me a bottle one of Australia’s finest: a 2014 Mollydooker Blue-Eyed Boy. Producers Sparky and Sarah Marquis named this bottle of joy after their son Luke. There is a technique to prepping this Shiraz and it’s called the Mollydooker Shake, which is done with or without music, but it’s performed because of the minimal sulfites used in production. Rather than explain why they use nitrogen, the YouTube video is posted below. Enjoy. In the meantime, let’s just say this Shiraz has been called “stunning, vibrant, and indulgent.” I would add lush and decadent. It’s been rated 4 stars by many in the vino know. You will taste (I promise) flavors of deep blueberry, plum, coffee, and chocolate with wisps of delicate spice and vanilla. This wine carries a solid 16% ABV.  A McLaren Vale gem. Thank you, Lesley!

Happy New Year everyone. Peace on Earth.

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Wine of the Week: 2014 Sinister Hand • Yakima Valley, WA

2014 Sinister Hand • Yakima Valley, WA

Every wine has a story. But this wine and this story is what legends are made of. It is the kind of story that would make Edgar Allen Poe smirk at the shivers riding down the back of your spine.  The blood-dripping severed hand on the label belongs to an Irish patriot by the name of Owen Roe O’Neill. Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, there were two rivaling Irish families: the aforementioned O’Neill’s and the David O’Reilly’s. The families—both coveting the same piece of prime real estate—were divided into two teams. The first family to row across the lake and touch the prized property with his lucky Irish hand would become the Lord of the Land. After a time, O’Neill’s boat fell behind, whereby a crewmember drew his sword, cut off his hand and threw it ashore—thus staking the O’Neill clan’s claim to the land. But getting back to the wine. This is a red blend of the holy trinity grapes – GSM – 41% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, and just to create some spice, 12% Cinsault. It’s an excellent Rhone blend of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape genre. Look for lush and bold red fruit from dark cherries to strawberries and plum. But hang on, it becomes more complex. Tannins are elegant and smooth, balancing acidity-to-alcohol. Easily paired with beef, lamb, spicy food, and I think, cheddar or chocolate.  This is the first release Sinister Hand to carry a Yakima Valley designation.

I found 2014 Sinister Hand at The Wine Bin in Ellicott City, MD.  $33.

Happy Hallowine!!

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Wine of the Week: 2010 Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs • Napa Valley, USA

2010 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

True or False: When celebrating, one must always celebrate with a flashy French champagne. Before you answer that question — and I do love French champagne — try sipping a California sparkling wine. Try it once, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Enjoy a glass of 2010 Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs. Schramsberg is one of the Big Three in California “champagne” production (Roederer and Scharffenberger are the others). Schramsberg’s all-white grape bubbly is 100% Chardonnay made in the méthode champenoise as produced in the Champagne region of France (secondary fermentation in the bottle). Pale, light, dry, crisp. Look for notes of citrus and toasty brioche. Recently, we had a great moment of celebration involving my niece. As a surprise, she brought home this sparkling California wine with tiny, tiny, tiny bubbles. You know what they say. Le plus infime des bulles plus le verre.* Still thinking about whether you should buy a California bubbly? Think again. Since 2013, California has sold approximately 9 million cases of sparkling wine (wine source: Vivino). Hey, someone is enjoying this stuff. $39/bottle.

*The tinier the bubbles, the better the glass.

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Wine Of The Week: 2011 Château Lalande | Saint Julien | Bordeaux, France

2011 Château Lalande | Saint Julien | Bordeaux, France

A few weeks ago, I joined some friends at a delightful, full-on French artisanal cheese and wine bistro called La Fromageriejust about a stone’s throw from Old Town Alexandria on King Street. This is a go-to shop for the locals and a supplier for some DC restaurants. Chef/Owner Sebastien Tavel presents his products well. After an evening of mouth-watering charcuterie and cheese with wine pairings by Laurie, we decided to explore the rest of the shop. Wines of the world were shelved along one wall. It was there I spotted Château Lalande • Saint Julien, a red Bordeaux blend.* Of course, I stopped in my tracks. Of course, I bought the bottle. Of course, I savored it for a while, looking at it now and then. But in my heart of hearts (a little sniff, here, please), I knew that a Bordeaux, especially this particular Bordeaux that was currently languishing in my cellar-slash-pantry is meant to succumb to the adoring sips of us wine lovers. We popped the cork and poured. Showing silken tannins, noting deep, dark red fruits like black current and black cherry, it was nicely balanced. The 2011 Château Lalande should cellar well for a decade plus. $42/bottle.

Check out La Fromagerie: http://www.lafromagerieonline.com

*50% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc

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Wine of the Week: 2010 Domaine de la Solitude, Côtes du Rhône

2010 Domaine de la Solitude, Côtes du Rhône

2010 Domaine de la Solitude, Côtes du Rhône

I’ve seen a lot of airports, and rarely have I found an oasis — my little escape from all of the other speedwalking travelers — to relax and have a decent glass of wine. There are the usual burger joints, the pubs, the diners, the fast foodie spots and chewy seafood bars on the concourse. Doesn’t matter where you go, that’s pretty much it. Until a few years ago. Was I pleasantly surprised when I stumbled on to Concourse A at BWI airport in Baltimore! I spied a little wine shop called Vino Volo. Skeptical though I was, I was drawn in. Oasis! Check out their website www.vinovolo.com for locations. Recently, I tried a 2010 Côtes du Rhône with the traditional SGM* blend of that region. On the nose: Black cherries, jam and violets. Holding its elegant cherriness throughout the glass, the deep red blend presented an added treat of a little espresso here, a little chocolate and tobacco there. Oasis. $25/bottle.

*Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre

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Wine of the Week: 2009 Boroli Barbera d’Alba Quattro Fratelli • Piedmont, Italy

2009 Boroli Barbera d’Alba Quattro Fratelli

2009 Boroli Barbera d’Alba Quattro Fratelli – Piedmont, Italy

Recently, one of my dear friends presented me a quart of his grandfather’s recipe spaghetti sauce. I couldn’t wait to get it home as I’ve heard so much about “the sauce.” We paired it with the above-named Barbera. What a perfect match for this legendary spaghetti sauce — which by the way, we layered lovingly over locally- produced angel hair pasta. Oh, the aroma! E ‘stata pensata per essere divorato! Did I mention he simmers it for five or six hours? Or the fact that he adds mild Italian sausage and chicken breast? How tender is the meat after this process? Nevermind, you would only be jealous. The fruity, acidic style of the Barbera with its low tannins gently enhanced the rich acidic tomato of the sauce. It’s true there were many secrets to his family recipe that my friend did not share with me, but that’s okay, as long as we are on his short list of future sauce recipients. In return, I will present him with a bottle of the above-named Barbera. Lastly, to conclude with the words of Nicholas D. Livingston for Artisan Vineyards on this lovely Piedmont d’Alba: “Quattro Fratelli speaks in terms of ripe raspberries and black cherries, woodsy top notes and nervy acids that make one water at the mouth and yearn for dinner.” That, wine lovers, is precisely what happened. $20.

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Wine of the Week: 2012 Louis Latour Mercurey, Cote Chalonnaise, France

2012 Louis Latour Mercurey, Cote Chalonnaise, France

Vive la France!  Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!  Bastille Day refers to the storming of the Bastille in 1789 (Au revoir, Louis ze 16th), which marks the beginning of the French Revolution, commemorated annually on July 14. Think America’s 4th of July. Our grape on this auspicious occasion is Pinot Noir. The hierarchy of location is as follows: France, Burgundy/Côte de Beaune (major wine region) Côte Chalonnaise (district), Mercurey (communial AOC).  In the scope of all things vin de France, this is a rare-if-ever (!) Louis Vuitton deal at $26, but the added value of a luscious ruby red, cherry-strawberry Pinot Noir with an ooh lá lá at the fini is so parfait exquis. What can I say? I’m a Burgundy girl.

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Wine of the Week: 2013 Miraval Rosé, Famille Perrin, Côtes de Provence

2013 Miraval Rosé

Wine of the Week: 2013 Miraval Rosé

Provence, FR –
 

When Pitt-Jolie and Marc Perrin designed this angelic (no pun intended) Rosé, it had to be with Angelina Jolie in mind. It’s strikingly beautiful. Delicately pink in color, wearing its scantily-clad label on a champagne-style bottle, it’s simply exquisite. A red carpet choice to die for, wine darlings. This luscious dry Rosé received 90/100 points from Wine Spectator following its 2012 release, which sold out almost immediately. Miraval was my introduction to a refined, elegant Rosé. It’s medium bodied, with red berry and citrus on the nose. Dig deeper and you’ll find melon and spice and local terroir notes. Miraval is certified organic with French Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. A fourth grape, the white Rolle – also known as Vermentino – is part of the blend. From $23 to $29.

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Wine of the Week: Lucky Star Pinot Noir

Lucky Star Pinot Noir. Sonoma, California.

Wine of the Week: Lucky Star Pinot Noir

Sonoma County, CA –

Everyone has a favorite nearby hangout or two, and Sofia Volo is no different. The Grill at Harryman House is a rather unique venue in historic Reisterstown, Maryland. Wine lovers are welcomed here with wine flights and great wine go-withs like cheese plates and numerous wine-friendly appetizers. Originally built in 1791, the restaurant features among other things, a chestnut and oak log cabin, fireplaces, and a comprehensive wine list, which is where I discovered Lucky Star Pinot Noir. Star’s silky finish starts with ripe cherry, red raspberry and cranberry on the nose, but what gives this Pinot added heft is a touch of jammy Zinfandel. Some aging in American and French Oak barrels layers the complexity of toastiness, vanilla and cedar. You can find Lucky Star Pinot Noir at a purse friendly $12.

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Wine of the Week: Caposaldo Sparkling Peach Moscato

Caposaldo Sparkling Peach Moscato

Wine of the Week: Caposaldo Sparkling Peach Moscato

It’s true I’m a red wine girl, and today I was going to write about a robust Central Coast red. But, fellow wine lovers, it’s summertime, it’s warm and humid in Maryland, and perhaps a cooler, crisper choice is in order. When I saw a beautiful salmon-colored sparkler on the shelf, I thought try it. Produced in Italy’s Lombardy region from 20-year old Guyot-trained vines in white marl and chalky soils (good stuff), it was beckoning to me. This refreshingly cool sipper blends a fruit forward aroma of freshly picked peaches, honeysuckle and citrus. The peach flavor was ripe and scrumptious and said hello summer! By itself or as recommended with a light pastry dessert, sorbet or fresh fruit, it’s a perfect warm weather choice. Priced at $13, you can just picture yourself enjoying it on your deck. I just loved looking at it.

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