Tasting Notes: Palmaz Cabernet

Happy Favorite Friday! I don't think I will ever NOT be amazed at how quickly a month goes by. August's Favorite Friday is particularly special to me and I can't wait to share why with you!

First, Palmaz is a splurge. No way around it. I started Favorite Fridays as a way to showcase my go to bargains, but also some wines that are on the pricier end for special occasions. This is definitely one of the latter. Palmaz has a lot of sentimental value because it's where Kevin and I got engaged in August 2014. Well, it actually was the winery we visited right before we got engaged, but semantics. 

Because we felt it played an important role in our engagement story, we also had it featured in our wedding. The Palmaz family was generous enough to send me corks for placecard holders, and we also borrowed some wine boxes from the local wine shop in Highlands.

Finally, Palmaz is just a cool place. I will tell anyone and everyone going to Napa that they MUST do a tour here. Nice people, awesome wines, and a winery unlike any other I've visited because there's so much science behind it. You can read a little bit about it in this WIRED article. Anyway, long story short, we love this winery and its wine. For this tasting, I actually used my Coravin so we could save the bottle for our actual anniversary!

The Facts

  • Producer: Palmaz Vineyards
  • Region: Napa Valley, California
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Variety: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
  • Where I purchased: Palmaz. You can find it at small wine shops, too.
  • Price: $100+

I'm not going to do my traditional tasting notes setup because, to be honest, I was enjoying my small pour too much to focus on taking extensive notes. The wine is definitely what you'd expect for a Napa Valley Cab color-wise. It's a deep reddish purple color and much more opaque than what we've been drinking lately! The primary aroma was raspberry, and that came through in the first sip too. It's velvety with very smooth tannins. Kevin mentioned it was less spicy or had less pepper flavor than other Cabs we've had from there, and I'd agree. I think this wine is so well balanced with the alcohol, tannin, flavor, and body all being in proper proportion to each other. I would say it's less bold than what some might expect from a Napa Cab, but I think that also adds to its charm. I highly recommend as a splurge, and DEFINITELY check out the winery if you're ever in Napa!


Wine Cocktail: Frosé Forever

I guess you can say summer is basically over if you look at a calendar. Kids are back in school and Labor Day is quickly approaching. Despite this, it definitely still feels like summer outside. I don't know about where you live, but here in Charlotte, it feels like 100 degrees every day. Because of that, it's still fun to make it seem like summer! Grill those hamburgers, eat that corn on the cob, wear those white jeans, and drink summery drinks! This frozen rosé drink, aka frosé, that I came across on Basil and Bubbly seemed like the perfect way to toast to the "end" of summer! The best part? It couldn't be any easier to make!

This frozen glass of goodness has four components: rosé (obviously), strawberry simple syrup, lemon juice, and water. Yep, that's it! Here's how you go about making it:

1. Freeze the wine in advance.

The first, and most important step, is to freeze the wine. I chose the Les Vignes des Precheurs 2015 rosé  I had on hand from Total Wine. If possible, choose a darker rosé. I froze my wine for about 5 hours and it was good, but if you have the time, I highly suggest more. Say 6 or 7 hours. I poured the whole bottle wine into a 9x13" Pyrex dish and stuck it straight in the freezer.

2. Make your strawberry simple syrup.

I taught you how to make simple syrup originally in this post, but in case you forgot, boil 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. It won't take but a second for that to happen once the water is boiling! I hulled and quartered half a container of strawberries and plopped them in after the sugar had dissolved. Remove from heat. Let the strawberries impart their heavenly flavor on the syrup for a while. I ran some errands while this was happening, so I let it sit for about an hour. I'd say wait at least 30 minutes for good flavor. Note: you will NOT use the whole amount you made, so save the leftovers for Round 2!

3. Squeeze 2.5 oz of fresh lemon juice and get 1 cup of ice.

Simple enough.

4. Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.

Frozen wine, 3 oz. simple syrup, 2.5 oz. of lemon juice, and 1 cup of ice. Blend. 

5. Drink and enjoy while jamming out to this gem by Ben Rector.

There you have it. The perfect addition to your next weekend. For better photos of the end product (the glass unfortunately fogged and I didn't like the light inside), be sure to check out my inspiration -- Marianne over at Basil and Bubbly (and Bon Appetit).



Tasting Notes: Chateau des Deduits Fleurie Beaujolais

Earlier in the season, I came across this article from Bon Appetit that discussed good alternatives to rosé during the summer. One of those was the Gamay grape, which is the grape of Beaujolais, France. I thought it would be great to try out a wine made from Gamay, mainly because I still crave red wines in the summer, but don't necessarily want a heavy Cab or red blend. According to this article, it can also be found in California and Oregon now, but I decided I would try a version for its homeland first. The self-proclaimed "wine nerd" at Total Wine helped me pick this one since Fleurie is known to be a lighter "cru" (or group of vineyards) and generally less expensive.

The Facts

  • Producer: Chateau des Deduits
  • Region: Beaujolais, France
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Variety: Gamay
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $19.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a medium red color with just the slightest hint of purple. It was also partially transparent... you could see through the outer edges, but the very center was opaque.
  • Nose: This Fleurie smelled of dark red fruit like raspberries and plum. It was very aromatic and took me a second to grasp what it was... floral! I am not great at picking out specific floral aromas, but it finally dawned on me that it smelled like flowers! Of what flowers, I am not sure, but maybe roses? 
  • Mouth: The raspberry definitely came through on the palate as well. There was a hint of spice, but at first I found the wine to be sour. Maybe sour isn't the right word, but tart and acid was very present. It was definitely a lighter body red, which was nice.
  • Thoughts: Overall, this one wasn't my favorite, but it did grow on me a bit as the glass went on. I think the lightness almost came across as thin and the tart acidity really threw me off. I'm starting to wonder if I served it too cold, but even after it would have warmed up, I wasn't wowed. Or maybe I should say that I would prefer other light reds, like Pinot Noir. I'm not giving up on Beaujolais or Gamay, but I may give an American version of Gamay a try next. 


Corkbuzz Class: Blind Tasting 101

Have you ever been in awe of blind tastings? Like in Somm or Uncorked, I am always blown away by the candidates when they do their deductive tastings. I am constantly thinking, "How do they know that?!" Grape, vintage, region?! It all seems so overwhelming.

When I came across a Blind Tasting 101 class at Corkbuzz, one of my favorite places to learn about wine, I was incredibly excited! I don't know if that makes me a huge nerd, or not, but regardless... I was happy to see they were offering a class that would hopefully demystify the deductive tasting process. You can imagine how disappointed I was to learn it would be over 4th of July weekend, so I would miss it. The positive note to this story? Corkbuzz offered to put together a private class for us, as long as we could get six or more people together. We immediately brainstormed who enjoyed wine like we did, and they luckily were in. 

Corkbuzz Blind Tasting 101.JPG

How was the class structured?

We each got three whites and three reds, all classic examples of their grape varieties. This meant there were no blends or "funky" representations of a grape. They were one grape type from a region that is known for grown this grape type. Our instructor, Austin, had just passed his Certified Sommelier examination and was VERY patient with us. He walked us through the grid and then we went through each wine as a group filling out the grid. 

What is the grid?

The grid is how candidates go through and complete their deductive tasting. It contains information on sight, nose, palate, and finally a candidates initial and final conclusion. You can find examples of a grid for red wine here and white wine here thanks to the Court of Master Sommeliers. Here's another interesting post about the grid by Wine Folly.

What did we learn?

Deductive tasting is difficult! But it's also a learned process. You have to start making associations and consistently study them to become a master of deductive tasting. For example, with Chardonnay, the New World uses the most NEW oak. What happens when you use new oak on Chardonnay? It imparts that vanilla, buttery, oak flavor on the wine more so than when you use old oak. So if you get a white wine that has those aromas and flavors, you automatically lean toward New World regions (i.e. California, Australia, etc.)

Other fun facts:

  • Due to the malic and citric acids found in white grapes, all white wines will have apple flavors and citrus flavors. It just depends which is more prominent and what kind of apple or citrus flavors. Is it taste like a red, green, or yellow apple? Is it an under ripe apple or a rotting apple? Does it smell of lemon juice, lemon zest, or lemon rind?
  • Warmer climates typically cause a wine to be fuller bodied and less acidic than grapes grown in cooler climates.
  • The Tempranillo grape in Spain and Sangiovese grape in Italy are very similar. One way to tell the difference between when doing a tasting is that Spain uses oak while Italy does not.
  • Austin described Merlot as "Christmas", so think baking spice, vanilla, and mocha. I loved this description... mainly because I love Christmas.
  • Green pepper is a common flavor in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
  • A candidate can get the final conclusion incorrect and still pass the tasting portion. As long as you describe the wine 60% or 75% correctly depending on the level of exam, you can pass!

Overall, it was a great class. I felt like I learned a lot, and now all I have to do is practice! If blind tastings sound interesting to you, stay tuned for tips on how to host your own blind tasting party next month!

Tasting Notes: Anne de K Riesling

Another spicy shrimp dish, another Riesling. I don't want to tire you out on this combo, but this is the third time we've had this duo and it works pretty great, if I do say so myself. I went to Total Wine on a whim this past weekend and knew we were having our new favorite spicy shrimp dish, so I headed straight for the Alsace area. For those of you that are tired of hearing about Alsatian Rieslings, have no fear... I think I've exhausted Total Wine's affordable selection!

The Facts

  • Producer: Anne de K
  • Region: Alsace, France
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Riesling
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $14.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a pale, straw yellow color. This is to be expected given the region it's from. We actually did a blind tasting class that had an off-dry German Riesling, and it was much more of a yellow color than the Alsatian Rieslings we've had.
  • Nose: There were aromas of pear and apple. It smelled sweeter than I expected, but I think that was my brain playing tricks on me. As I've said before, we associate fruitiness with sweetness, but most fruity wines that I drink are not sweet.
  • Mouth: The wine had a prominent apple flavor come through, which is typical of Riesling. It was definitely a dry Riesling, but was fruity. There were also notes of honey, and as expected, there was a minerality to it. The wine was fuller in flavor but less acidic than others I've had. It was still tasty, but I think I lean toward the wines that really give a "zing" of acidity. 
  • Thoughts: This Riesling was quite good, especially for the price point. It obviously paired well with the spice in our dinner due to the lower alcohol content. This Riesling was only 12% ABV. I STRONGLY recommend that if you like spicy food, try pairing it with a Riesling. I really think you'll be surprised at how well they go together. I wouldn't say there is a standout among the Rieslings we've had lately, since they've all been good, but this one wins on price point. I have a feeling it will be our go to whenever we have a spicy dish.