Monday, March 28, 2016

Winecation in November 2015 Carmel Valley, California #hellerestate

Don and I hadn't been to this wine region since 2011, so it was a long overdue vacation. We leased a cottage in Carmel near the center of the town by the sea. Within walking distance was the beautiful Pacific Ocean, the quaint town with all its fabulous shopping opportunities, and of course, delicious food to eat. Our first evening there we ate at a European bistro in Carmel by the Sea.

Nico Ristorante Europea pic via the Internet
I chose a Greek salad with grilled salmon served on top. 

The wine was a 2013 Heller Estate Chardonnay from Carmel Valley. Heller was one of the wineries that I had planned for us to visit to Carmel, so tasting this made us really anxious to visit the tasting room.

Click on the link to read the tasting notes about this 100% Chardonnay produced at Heller Estates in the Carmel Valley. So delicious! I will talk more about Heller in the order that we visit all the wineries that weekend. I had quite a list of tasting rooms that I had researched before going just to make sure there was plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon for Don to taste. As it turned out,
Don and I were quite surprised by the wines we found that winecation!
Backyard of our Carmel VRBO

To be continued!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cheers to Bubbly!

I never realized there were so many names for sparkling wine or Champs (as the RHOC say). Each bubbly begins with three ingredients-yeast, sugar, and wine, but they're made in different countries of the world and with different methods. The taste is altered by those two factors. The price of a bottle can range from $10 to in the three digits. Bubbly can be very dry (brut), to mildly sweet (demi-sec) to very sweet (doux).They can range from light and delicate to rich and full-flavored. 

The best way to chill a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne is of course in the fridge on its side for a few hours. You can also place in in a bucket of ice water for 15 to 30 minutes. Don't put it in the freezer because it will deflate the bubbles. Here are the types of sparkling wine I want to share, each with examples of what to purchase.


The classic example of sparkling wine is champagne, which is exclusively made in the Champagne region in France. Only sparkling wines that have come from that region, been made through the tradition method called method champenoise, and produced following the strict guidelines of the Champagne AOC can be called Champagne.


The name Prosecco is derived from an Italian village near the town of Trieste. This Italian sparkling wine is less expensive to produce since it is not fermented in the bottle like Champagne. The method by which this sparkling wine is made is Charmat-Martinotti, where the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. One thing notable is that Prosecco is the main ingredient of the Bellini cocktail making it an affordable option than Champagne.


Sounds like an expensive bottle of sparkling wine doesn't it! But don't be fooled! This is a sparkling wine made in the Alsace region of France. It's made the by the same method as Champagne, but doesn't conserve itself as long as Champagne does. It is less expensive and therefore a close incontestable leader of the French sparkling wines.

Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain mostly produced in Catalonia. It may be white or rosé and is made by the same method as Champagne and Crémant.

Sparkling Wine

Many varieties of sparkling wine are produced in the United States. Other countries produce sparkling wine such as Espumante in Portugal and Cap Classique in South Africa. Hungary and the United Kingdom have begun producing it also. These are California producers.

 We enjoy Gloria Ferrer when in Sonoma, Domaine Carneros in Napa, and when in Albuquerque we love Gruet. Find what you love, but don't be afraid to try something different! You may be pleasantly surprised!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Part II Schramsberg Wine Dinner-Continuing a Dream

The finalé that night was phenomenal, or at least to me it was! I had never seen someone perform the trick that was about to happen after dinner. Aaron Benson, our past sommelier, was presented with a saber for his wedding gift (I believe) and with this saber he proceeded to open a bottle of sparkling wine.

The saber signifies the 50th anniversary of the winery and how lucky was Aaron to receive such a wonderful gift! The most festive way to open a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne is to use this famed, expertly crafted knife from France's Laguiole region. Each knife is made by a single master cutler. They range in price anywhere from $169 and up.

Aaron gave the bottle one huge whack and off came the cork and part of the bottle. He gave it to me for a souvenir!

Fun night at the DCC! 

Friday, March 18, 2016

#Schramsberg Wine Dinner at DCC Fall 2015

This past October we attended another wine dinner, the last one we could attend for the year before the holidays began. What a wonderful dinner idea for members of the club where we could order all our sparkling wines to enjoy throughout the season!

There are many photos to share, so I won't bore you with the menu.

At the reception, we were served a 2011 Brut Rose' ($44), a flavorful, complex and dry making it perfect alone or with foods.

Each table was laden with a lazy susan full of fruits, cheeses, spreads and crackers.

The next sparkling wine served was a 1996 J. Schrams ($78). Of course I think all sparkling wines by Schramsberg is great alone. This wine is dedicated to the founder in 1862, Jacob Schrams.

This is the same wine as above but a different vintage, a 2006 J. Schram, ($120). Click on the link and read all about it! Very delicious!

The vineyards ended up in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies in 1965 during a search for the sparkling dreams of owning property in the Napa Valley. They brought the 1870's Victorian home back to life and it is still lived in by his son and wife, who now run the winery.

With our other dinner courses we had the following wines from the Davies Vineyards.

2012 Ferrington Vineyards Pinot Noir ($55) from Anderson Valley. This wine was fabulous. As I reread the tasting notes, my mouth begins to water for it! Click on the name to read the notes from the winemaker.

2012 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($100). One word describes this wine! Lusciousness!

2011 Cremant Demi-Sec ($39), a favorite of the White House Presidents since Reagan. It's wonderful with desserts.

There's more to share about this dinner, but I should stop here and continue in a Part II blog.

Coming soon! What Aaron did with this sword!