WILD-ly practical wine recommendations & advice

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W.I.L.D for Spain!

Hey sports & wine fans!  The winners in Spain aren’t limited to the soccer field –  I’m talking about the wines.

Lots of good ones  – Rioja (red & white), Tempranillo, Priorat, Albariño, Cava, Ribera del Duero, some great new boutique blends and some traditional favorites… and don’ t get me started on Sherry.  Yes, Sherry is a good thing.  More on all of these in later posts.   Makes my head spin and my mouth water!

For today, my Spanish pick is

GARNACHA!

  • POINT OF INTEREST>>> Garnacha is the Spanish synonym for Grenache.  It grows all over southern France and  is the 2nd most planted red grape in Spain (after Tempranillo).  It  adds fruit, body & softness to harsher, edgy grapes like Tempranillo (in Rioja and Priorat blends) and Syrah (in Rhône blends like  Chateauneuf du Pape ) .

I give you 2 picks today…  for 2 important reasons:

1. They are both smooth and easy to drink  – like Pinot Noir, garnacha has a rustic quality and softer tannins than most red wines,  and

2. They are both priced nice enough to be the base of your red sangria!  (lots of good red sangria recipes on the web, if you need help, leave a comment and I’ll steer you in the right direction)

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, 2007

Las rocas means, “the rocks” -the grapes that make this wine grow in arid, rocky soil at high altitude in Calatayud, Spain (an important center of cork production!).

It has a deep ruby color with aromas and flavors of black cherries and raspberries with hints of cinnamon and pepper and a touch of oak.  It has a medium weight in the mouth and a lingering finish.  You can find this at retail or online from $9-11 a bottle

There is also an “old vine” version of this wine that will cost you a couple more bucks.  The wine is made only from the grape juice from vines that are 70-100 years old.  Like humans, the vines are less ferile with age, so they produce fewer grapes, but what they produce is concentrated and OUTSTANDING!!! This is proof of improving with age!  You can get the old vine version of this wine for $16-19 a bottle.  This version I wouldn’t recommend for your sangria.

Ahhh, but there’s another  Spanish garnacha that’s the best of both worlds…

Garnacha de FUEGO Old vines, 2009

This wine is also from the high altitude in Calatayud, Spain AND also made with from those old vines.  So, it’s got some great concentration of aromas and flavors.

Just like the old vine Las Rocas, it has a rich ruby color, aromas and flavors of black berries, plums, cooking spices and licorice and a hint of pepper.  But this beauty can be fetched for $9-10 a bottle (easily $5-8 less than the old vine Las Rocas).  So if you’re looking for a bargin, this is you pick!   You’ll love it alone or in your sangria!

Enjoy and GO W.I.L.D!

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W.I.L.D by the case – part 2!

Not only did South Africa host a fantastic world cup, but she is also in the midst of a winemaking renaissance that began in the 1990s.  With such high quality and wallet-friendly prices…this value is off the hook!

In my last post, I shared with you a red South African wine worth buying by the case… today, I give you the white wine counterpart.   This wine comes highly rated and recommended by wine critics and me! Here it is:

MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, South Africa, 2009

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.

  • POINT OF INTEREST>>> Chenin Blanc is the classic white grape of the Loire Valley, France.  It’s also jack-of-all-grapes and can produce a range of wines from aromatic and bone dry to some of the world’s most sought-after age-worthy sweet wines. In South Africa, Chenin Blanc is also called “Steen”.

This is a lemon-y colored, dry white wine.  The tropical aromas are of pineapple, coconut and honeydew melon.  The flavors are a bold, tangy lemon, green apple and pineapple.  This is a light to medium bodied wine with a crisp, palate cleansing finish – drink it chilled!

For eats… goes well with poultry, fish, salads or all by itself on a hot summer afternoon.

Snatch it up online or at retail from $7-9 a bottle.

BTW: If you have a hard time finding these wines, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll tell you where to find it.

Next… a Spanish wine in honor of Spain’s World Cup win!

Until then… enjoy and GO WILD!

WILD by the case- part 1

From time to time I’ll give you suggestions on wines that are very good and offered at such a palatable price point, they’re worth buying by the case for everyday drinking.  These are wines that are ready to drink and enjoyable by wine lovers of any level of wine sophistication – newbie to geek.

Today I’ll share with you the red wine that I’m buying by the case.  In my next post I’ll give you a white wine case-buy suggestion.

If you are a fan of Syrah/Shiraz- based wines, you’ll love this charmer that you can get online or at retail from $8-10 a bottle.  It’s been highly rated and recommended by wine critics.  In fact, it’s one of the wines I served last night at an art show opening and was the crowd favorite.  Here it is:

Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap, South Africa, 2009  

This wine is a blend of 65% Syrah, 32% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier

  • POINT OF INTEREST>>> these grape varieties are the traditional grape varieties grown in the Northern Rhone Valley in France.  Syrah and Mourvèdre are black grapes, while Viognier is a white grape.  The black grapes contribute the dark color, dark fruit character and spice, while the white, Viognier, adds body and flowery aromas to the blend. It’s good to see the black and white grapes working well together in this product of South Africa!

This wine has a deep ruby color, is bold and rich, and remarkably smooth. An easy drinker!  It’s loaded with aromas and flavors of black berries and black cherries, violet, black pepper, tobacco, licorice and bacon.  Yes, BACON!  Yummy 🙂

Needless to say, it goes well with anything from simple grilled hotdogs and burgers to steaks and lamb.

Check back for a white wine to buy by the case.

Also, since I’ve sorted out how to include images in this blog, moving forward, I’ll add the wine label of recommended wines in the post so that if you go looking for the wine, you know what to look for.

Enjoy and GO WILD!

WILD to stay cool!

It’s HOT, HOT, HOT in the northeast.  And, it looks like there’s more of the same expected over the next several days.

So, on days like these, I’m drinking chilled Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  New Zealand has reinvented Sauvignon Blanc, making it bright, crisp and distinctly different than French or US-made versions (e.g., Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Fumé Blanc).

  • Point of interest: The name Sauvignon Blanc is from the French sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”).  It appropriately describes the vine – grows like a weed.  And, the flavors can have a wild herbaceous flavor particularly when the vine is overgrown.

One of my favorites –

Kim Crawford

Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2009

This wine is a tropical fruit bomb!  Big aromas and flavors of lemons, peaches, apricot, pineapple with a hint of green leaves and asparagus – typical of Sauvignon Blanc.  The acidity gives this wine a crisp, clean finish.

Drink it chilled to cool off or with seafood like shrimp or oysters, vegetarian dishes, particularly asparagus and salad.

This wine is widely distributed so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it.  Snatch it up at around $12-14 a bottle.

Enjoy and GO WILD!

On the 4th, Drink like a Founding Father (or Mother)

Colonial times were tough.  With a lack of indoor plumbing and electricity, it’s no wonder our founding fathers looked to wine for enchantment.

Benny Franklin is famous for saying, ” Wine is proof there is a GOD and (s)he likes to see us happy.”

Tommy Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States, was also famous for his love of the grape nectar.  In his later position of ambassador to France in the 1780s, he became expert in French, German and Italian wines.  He had a particular proclivity for top-quality Bordeaux wines.

He had a vision to make the US a strong wine-making and wine-drinking country.  Jefferson sent French grape vines to Virginia and encouraged his friends and neighbors (James Madison and James Monroe) to plant and experiment with grape-growing.  Alas, the Virginia climate and lack of local wine growing/making knowledge didn’t provide a backdrop for producing quality Bordeaux-style wines at the time.

TJ’s love of wine is obvious from some of his well-known quotes such as, “Good wine is a daily necessity for me” and “no nation is drunken where wine is cheap.”  I like to interpret that as “wine should be the national drink!  I, of course, couldn’t agree more!  I’m sure he rolled over in his grave when the Volstead Act (the 18th Amendment, aka Prohibition) was passed in 1919.

So, in honor of TJ’s early attempts at making the US a strong-wine drinking nation, I’m drinking US-made Bordeaux- style wines this Independence Day.

*  A point of interest…Bordeaux blends can be red or white and are generally blends of classic French grape varieties.  The reds are blends of 2 or more of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  The whites are blends of 2 or more of the following: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Marsanne, Roussane, Muscadelle and Chardonnay.  In the US, we refer to these blends as MERITAGE (rhymes with heritage).

So, here are two MERITAGE (one white and one red) to enjoy this Independence Day (and in celebration of the 21st Amendment which repealed Prohibition!).

The White Meritage…

X- Winery White Meritage, North Coast, California, 2008

This is a blend of 57% Sauvignon Blanc with the rest being mix of Marsanne, Chardonnay and Roussanne.  This wine has a great fragrant mix of citrus like orange, peach and grapefruit and fun hints of honey.  It’s a nice medium weight white with more complexity than you would expect and crisp acidity.  At $12-$15 a bottle, it’s a great value wine.

And, the Red Meritage…

Newton Claret, Napa California, 2007

This blend is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It has a nice dark red color and pronounced aromas of black fruits – black currant, black berries and some sweet, cooking spices like nutmeg.  The flavors make it seem healthy to drink, there are blueberries and plums as well as a little pepper spice with a long, soft finish.  Shop around for this. If you can find it between $15-$20 a bottle, you’ve done well.  Smaller retailers will offer it at $25 a bottle.

Happy Independence Day!

Enjoy and GO WILD!

Welcome to WILD! – Wine I’d Like to Drink

Since this is my maiden post, here’s a little about me…

I’m a pharmacist by training (explains the winerium logo) and over the years have found the alchemy of wine to stimulate my mind and senses.  So after a career in the drug industry, I got wiser in wine – I credentialed up (for the details, check out “ABOUT” on my website, winerium.com).  This may sound stuffy, but I’m not!

I have one rule… wine is fun.

My goal here is to share my wine expertise and experiences with you in fun, simple terms to make wine more approachable and easy for you.

I’ll keep you posted on:
great cheap wine to buy by the case
wine topics in the news, like health benefits
crazy wine experiences I’m having
cool wine events or offers that I hear about

So, let’s get to the wine…

In celebration of this, my maiden posting, I’m popping the WILD cork on a spectacular bubbly  from the Burgundy region of France.

✔Point to remember… Only sparkling wine from the town of Champagne, France can be called Champagne (a couple exceptions but let’s not get lost in the details).  So, if it’s a sparkling wine from France, but NOT from Champagne, it’s called CREMANT.  Don’t be afraid of the different name, embrace it, it’s your friend – particularly since the quality of Cremant is generally as good as Champagne, but for less $$.

So the Wine I Like to Drink today is:

Veuve Ambal Brut Cremant De Bourgogne
This dry sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligote and Gamay – no surprise since those are the grape varieties grown in Burgundy, France.
This wine brings it with aromas of white flowers and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, green apple, apricot and peach.  The bubbles are small and just keep comin’.  It feels rich and creamy in the mouth. A long, crisp finish makes this wine memorable.

Best of all you should be able to get it for $15 to $17 – that’s $10 less than your average Champagne.  Check it out online or at your local retailer.
At this price, you don’t need a special occasion to open a sparkler !

Enjoy and go WILD!