Sunday, April 27, 2014

#Travaasa Experiental Resort/Wine Tasting #vistage Couples Retreat in Austin

We just returned today from an amazing resort hidden in the hills outside of Austin, Texas in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Travaasa Resort is located in a very beautiful, tranquil setting overlooking Lake Austin in the distance. This isn't just another resort. They offer an extensive menu of activities such as meditation, pilates, biking, yoga, cooking demos, horseback riding, archery, dance, wine, beer, and tequila tastings, obstacle courses, hiking trails and zip lines! I could go on and on about the healthy foods, marvelous wines, and the Zen-like feel of this gem in the woods!

Check this out! 

And this!

We were there with eleven other couples whom either the husband or the wife is a member of Vistage, an organization of men and women CEO's who gather together to solve problems, evaluate opportunities, and work on strategic and operational issues within their individual companies. 

Our main speaker for the weekend was Bob Thurman, owner and developer of Counter Attactics, a personal safety and defense program. He was very passionate about his work and involved us in self-defense training. It was a very intense and hands-on training seminar.

On Saturday, we had four hours of free time, so we chose to hike the trails in the preserve across from the welcome center. It only took about 45 minutes through winding, rocky, sometimes steep grades to complete the trails and end back at the resort.

Then it was time for wine tasting! Four of the couples met in the Jean's Kitchen for this event with Edward, the on-staff manager and sommelier.

 Edward had a California white and red and a French white and red for us to taste. He set them up side by side, but didn't reveal the name of the wines. We had to guess the wines according to the information he was giving us. He spent quite a lot of time explaining terroir, scents, colors, grape varietals, and New versus Old World wines.

Here are the whites we tasted, which were very good wines!

2012 Schug Chardonnay ($30) from Carneros, California. The color of this wine gave it away. It's a brilliant gold, compared to the pale yellow of the white Burgundy sitting beside it. Schug Chardonnay underwent the traditional European winemaking techniques of barrel fermentation and aging on the lees. This produced a wine much like the elegant white Burgundy, which confused me at first. Aromas of apple, pear, vanilla and toast, with flavors of mandarin, pear, honeysuckle, and quince. It was not very buttery or oaky. I would definitely drink this again (and did the night before at the cocktail party on the patio.)

2011 Verget "Terroirs de Cote d'Or" Blanc ($17) from Burgundy, France. This wine represents the terroir of Burgundy and will make you salivate after the first taste. The secret is in the fruit-grapes that are extremely low yields from carefully selected growers across the entire region of Burgundy and grapes harvested at the optimum ripeness, with minimal handling and meticulous attention to detail. Delicious! Bright citrus, lemon lime and green apple aromas. A medium acidity with more citrus fruit, banana, pear, green apple, and perhaps a touch of butterscotch hidden in the mouth.

The reds will be another day! Too much information makes me thirsty and hungry! Enjoy these two wines soon!

My friend Beth Royal in the dress! She and her husband hiked with us before the wine tasting!

Gorgeous views on the patio! Travaasa Austin is a must for everyone!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wine Down Wednesdays at DCC

Wine Down Wednesday Nights

Every Wednesday night Don and I try to make it to the club for half price bottle night! So each week I will be featuring a wine we've had on any given Wine Down Wednesday. Our friend Aaron Benson, the club's personal sommelier, finds us something he thinks we would like and 99.9% of the time we like whatever wine he suggests. He's that great!

So here's what we had on a Wednesday night in January. (I'm a little behind in blogging.) Don loves the biggest, boldest Cabernet Sauvignon one can produce.  He had a 2009 A. Rafanelli. This is "big bodied, yet plush and velvety, and hard to stop drinking once the cork is pulled." This winery is located in Healdsburg on West Dry Creek Road-our favorite place to hang out! They only produce Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot in very small quantities. It's not open to the public, but call for an appointment to taste and buy. No prices are listed online.

The same Wednesday night, I had a 2010 William Fevre Chablis. This 100% French Chardonnay had a "very fresh bouquet with notes of citrus and white fleshed fruit. It would be great with fish, grilled or in a light sauce, various seafoods and oysters." It was simply delicious! 

We've discovered that some of my most favorite wines come from France and his from Sonoma! I hope we make it there someday-France, that is!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tour of Napa Tasting, Part 2 Mountains and Hillsides- #CADEWinery #KruppBrothers #SpringMtnVyd #BarnettVineyard #NapaVintners

Napa Valley, Mountains and Hillsides

In mid April I attended the second part of the Tour of Napa Tasting held at the Dallas Country Club. This presentation was provided by the club sommelier, Aaron Benson. He has had extensive travels in the Napa region and has become quite the oenologist of that part of California! Before tasting the wines he spoke about that night, I knew each one would be amazingly delicious! 
And they were!
Listed below are the wines we tasted and a link to the website of each winery where you can discover for yourself the beautiful region of Napa Valley, California.

The reception took place in the ballroom where Aaron greeted us with a nice 2012 Cade Sauvignon Blanc, ($44). Cade Winery is located on Howell Mountain and is the first LEED Gold Certified estate winery in Napa, which is an environmental responsibility and commitment to preserve the land on which the winery is built. 
Howell Mountain is known for producing the finest Cabernet, and this Sauvignon Blanc is amazing! 

The second wine Aaron offered guests was a 2011 Pride Merlot, ($60) from Pride Mountain Vineyards. This luscious Merlot from Spring Mountain is described as a Cab Lover's Merlot. It certainly is delicious in my opinion!

I found a seat at the back of the room with a sweet couple whom Don and I have come to love being around. They asked me to sit with them since Don hadn't arrived yet. On the table at each setting was a placemat of the wines we would be tasting along with six wine glasses already poured for tasting. Aaron began his slide presentation about the Napa vineyards he had visited while we tasted each wine. He is a walking book of knowledge about wine. I can ask him anything and I have never stumped him yet! He knows what we like and always surprises us with great unheard of wines to try.

Our first wine was a 2008 Black Bart Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard ($65) from Krupp Brothers. Don and I had met Dr. Jan Krupp last spring during a Krupp Brothers wine dinner at the DCC. This wine is 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier, and has a beautiful dark garnet color with blueberry, vanilla, ripe raspberry and toasted oak flavors. Delicious!

The next wine was a 2009 Cade Cabernet Sauvignon ($80), from Howell Mountain. Chocolate, mint, vanilla bean, and currant flavors are revealed on the palette. This is a luscious wine worth every penny. 

Going around the placemat, our next wine was my very favorite! It was a 2008 Spring Mountain Vineyard "Elivette" Meritage ($125). This winery dates back to the 1870's and has a very interesting history. Elivette is a classic Bordeaux wine from a 19th century vineyard on the eastern slopes of Spring Mountain. Aromas of dark berry fruit, cinnamon spice, and dry cocoa. Soft and elegant flavors of raspberry jam, black cherry and espresso with a long, slow finish. Superb! I couldn't get enough of it!

The next wine was a 2011 Barnett Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon  ($75). We met the Barnetts at the DCC last fall at a private wine dinner featuring their wines. Lovely people and amazing wines. What's not amazing from Napa, right?
This is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petite Verdot.

The next wine was a 2010 David Arthur Vineyards "Meritaggio" Blend Pritchard Hill ($65). Their website is currently undergoing renovation, so I couldn't find out specifics about the wine. I can't remember everything I taste, so I always rely on the website to help me. I did make note that they originally only produced Chardonnay and still make a very limited amount. I do remember how fantastic it was though!

The last wine Aaron presented was a Montagna 2010 "Tre Vigneti" Cabernet Sauvignon ($52) from Pritchard Hill. This is a dark ruby red wine with flavors of baked cherry, licorice, and milk chocolate. Yummy!

That's the end of the Tour of Napa, Pt. 2. We enjoyed great food, awesome wine, good friends and fellowship, and a night out!

Thank you Aaron Benson for the fine job of sharing your travels with the patrons of the DCC. We can't wait to hear where you travel to next time!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jimmy's Food Store Wine Tasting

A trip to Jimmy's Food Store, a quaint Italian tratorria where you can dine alfresco, inside at small tables, or in back of the deli in their wine room, is certainly worth the drive. There you'll feel as though you've been transported to Italy itself, enjoying the beautiful mural on the wall, the aroma of Italian foods, and the occasional Italian spoken around every corner. 

I subscribe to monthly newsletters from this fine establishment in order to keep  informed of all the wine tastings and events they offer their customers. For example, every Saturday there are free in-store tastings at certain hours of the day and they offer a wine tasting dinner each month.

We attended the wine tasting/dinner in late March. Here's our representative from Stefano Farina Imports. Because we do not speak Italian and he does, we had quite the difficulty understanding his English, but it didn't keep anyone from understanding when to taste the wine and dine on the scrumptious foods!

Before this beautiful salad was served, we enjoyed a Prosecco Superiore Spumante Extra Dry DOCG, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene ($20). 

With our salads, we tasted a 2012 Gavi Di Gavi, ($27) which we loved and purchased. It's made from the Cortese grape, a white Italian wine grape variety predominately grown in the southeastern regions of Piedmont in the provinces of Alessandria and Asti. It has a moderate acidity and pairs well with local seafoods.  The dry taste feature makes it an excellent aperitif.

The next wine we tasted was a 2008 Sassaia Di Albereto Sangiovese Di Toscana IGT ($27). This is a dry red 100% Sangiovese wine best paired with any kind of meats, game, or seasoned cheeses. Delicious enough to purchase!

Another wine we had was a 2009 Chanti Classico Riserva DOCG ($36), which we also purchased. It is another dry red wine made of 100% Sangiovese grapes. Totally different from the one above.

The next three we did not buy, but they were good wines.

2004 Silenzio Barbera D'Alba DOC ($33), a dry red wine.

La Rosa Barolo DOCG ($55), considered the "king of wines" amongst Italian wines.

Le Bocce Novembre IGT Bianco Di Toscana Late Harvest ($30) which was too sweet for me. It reminded me of port wine.

Here's a collection of the wines served that night!

So much fun and meeting great people we've never met before was a plus! We sat by another Don and Vickie! How unusual is that!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bodega Secreto Patagonico 2010 Chardonnay

Bodega Secreto Patagonico

In a magical region in the South of Argentina, lies a rugged mountain landscape called Patagonia. This area has only recently been in the wine scene, with most of the wineries being in large production. But what was soon discovered was an old wine family devoted to making wine in the single vineyard method where each wine comes from its own vineyard creating limited editions of the finest wines. Before the year 2000, the Groppo family was basically selling their high quality grapes to larger production wineries. In 2000, they made the decision to start bottling wines under their own label. That's when Bodega Secreto Patagonico was born!

This 2010 Chardonnay ($16) comes from the famy's drip-irrigated vineyards. It is greenish gold with fresh aromas of pineapple, mango, citrus fruits with a touch of honey. These grapes are picked by hand and cold-fermentated in stainless steel tanks leaving it un-oaked. It's soft and fruity, a very nice expression of the terroir from which it comes.

I highly recommend trying some of their wines. They only make three-Chardonnay, Malbec, and Malbec Roble!

It's time to discover Patagonia!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

#HayesRanch #studiomoviegril Great Wine With a Movie/Food! Hayes Ranch Chardonnay 2011 Best Foot Forward

Don and I are always at the movies, especially when a new movie is just released or if we want to see something no one else has heard of! (AKA at the Angelika or the Magnolia-places I love)

Dallas has these cool theaters to see movies and eat at the same time! How genius is that! Especially when I came from a town with one theater, which has two screens-to this day!

Studio Movie Grills are the most creative invention in the world of movie theaters as far as I'm concerned! I know! This isn't news to those that have lived in Dallas all of your life! But to me-it's amazing! Now, some are newer than others and I think the one that we went to this past weekend is fairly new. It's located on Northwest Highway. 

We arrived a little earlier than seating for the movie, so I took off to the ladies lounge and Don went for the bar! When I came back, he had chosen a Chardonnay for me to try, which was a great one!

This is a Hayes Ranch 2011 Best Foot Forward Chardonnay ($8), from Livermore, California. This is a "California wine with a western spirit!" Fresh, crisp citrus and pear character highlighted by gentle vanilla oak. I love the description on the front of the bottle. I wish all wine labels had a description, not necessarily on the front though. But this one works perfect! Love the boot! How Texan is that! Good for the Wine Wrangling Woman! 

The back label explains how the Hayes family is a true ranching family that depends on the land. Their winemaker carries on the tradition of crafting bright, delicious wines from premier CA vineyards with a rancher's pride. 

Well, this is one I would definitely buy again. I researched and found that it is probably sold at Cost Plus World Market, Kroger, and Goody-Goody in this area. Go to the website and type in your zip code to see where this great Chardonnay is sold in your area!