Wine Cocktail: Blackberry Lime Rickey

Kevin and I have a new tradition with our neighbors where we have cocktails on their porch and let the dogs run around their backyard on Sunday evenings. It's a great way to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and wear out the pups before a new week starts. They supplied the first two rounds, so I knew it was time for us to step up to the plate and bring over a tasty concoction. I came across this recipe in Wine Enthusiast when I was at the pool last Saturday and thought it was the perfect summer cocktail! Citrus and fresh blackberries... what could say summer more? 

Blackberry Lime Rickey

  • 2 oz. vodka, we use Tito's
  • 3-5 blackberries, depending on size (I used 5 of the ones in the photo above)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • Sweetener to taste - I used 1 tsp of light agave nectar
  • Prosecco to top off the glass

Muddle the blackberries in a shaker. Add in the vodka, lime juice, sweetener, and ice. Shake, shake, shake! Return the cocktail to a glass and top it off with Prosecco! Easy, peasy!

If you don't have a muddler, I'm sure there is something in your kitchen drawers that will work. However, I will say that having a real muddler makes it SO much easier. We purchased this one on our second taste test of the cocktail and it made crushing the blackberries a breeze!

Tasting Notes: Seghesio Old Vine Carignane

Wine and cheese. Is there a more famous, and perfect, pairing? I think not. When I saw that Weekly Tasting put together a box for wines to pair with cheese, I had to order it. My favorite duo! After a weekend back in Texas celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends, I knew a cheese plate was the perfect way to top of the weekend. I read over the information cards that accompany their boxes to find which one would pair well with a few cheeses, and this Carignane was the winner! 

The Facts

*This bottle came in my "Cheese & Wine: The Perfect Pair" pack, which is four wines for $69.99 including shipping. If you are interested in trying it for yourself, please contact Weekly Tasting to see if there are any packs still available for purchase. Also, I do know that Total Wine carries their Zinfandel, so it may be worth it to ask if they can order the Carignane for you.

Eyes: It's that beautiful magenta color that I love so dearly. Not quite purple, but also not a true red. Looks like it's going to be tasty! (Is that a thing? I think it's a thing for me. I guess I should admit that I judge books by their cover...)

Nose: Smells great! Definitely get a lot of ripe red fruit, especially raspberry. There's also a hint of spice and something earthy. Maybe the earthiness reminds me a bit of leather? Regardless, it smells like it will have some depth to it, but with the fruit being front and center.

Mouth: The ripe fruit on the nose comes through as a little more jammy on the palette, but not so jammy that it tastes overdone. There were mild tannins and a slight burn I usually want to call spice, but that's probably the alcohol. This wine has a good balance to it to keep it interesting. Nothing is worse than a jammy and flabby wine! 

Thoughts: I think this is my favorite wine from Weekly Tasting yet. There was a Quo Grenache they had that was also excellent, but the Carignane takes the cake. It also paired perfectly with the Robusto (best cheese EVER, you can find it at Whole Foods) and the Stilton blue we purchased. This pack was selected by Laura Maniec, and her information card suggested those types of cheeses. She was SO right! YUM! As I mentioned above, I haven't found this wine elsewhere yet, but I am definitely going to be on the lookout! Also, I plan to try out their Zinfandel which is available at Total Wine.

Story: Seghesio has been in Sonoma for over 120 years! The vineyard was started in 1895 when Edoardo Seghesio, an Italian immigrant, planted some Zinfandel vines. While many wineries went to ruin, Seghesio was one of the few vineyards to survive Prohibition. Seghesio was a family owned operation until it became part of the Crimson Wine Group in 2011. Ted Seghesio, 4th generation, is still the winemaker.

What is Carignane? Carignane, or more commonly spelled as Carignan and pronounced care-in-yen, is a grape usually used in blending and is mostly grown in Southern France. You can read Wine Folly's full write-up on Carignan here, but the grape is making a comeback and is typically a good value. If you like Merlot, Zinfandel, or Syrah/Grenache blends, definitely check out wines made from this grape!



Tasting Notes: Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé

For as much as I love sparkling wine, there are surprisingly few reviews on sparkling wines. When I came across this sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't pass a bottle up! I first tried the Juvé y Camps brand at Corkbuzz a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this was their rosé, which is even more up my alley! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Juvé y Camps
  • Region: Penedès, Spain (near Barcelona)
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99, on sale

Eyes: This wine is so pretty. Is that weird to say? It's such a lovely deep salmon, almost cherry red color. And I think the bottle is awesome. The label looks classy and fancy... like it's expensive, but it's not!

Nose: The Cava smelled of bright red fruit, like strawberry and cherry. There was a hint of biscuit or toast, which is typical of Cava because it's made in the same method as Champagne, but I would say that it was more fruit forward than toasty. 

Mouth: Tasty! This is a wine that "what you see is what you get", meaning that it tastes fruit forward and refreshing. The strawberry that's on the nose really comes through when you drink it, and I personally don't get a lot of the toast flavor when drinking it. It's very acidic, but has more depth in flavor than a non-rosé Cava. 

Thoughts: I think this is a crowd-pleaser and a good value. Is there great complexity here? No, but for $15, I think it's pretty awesome. I think it's a great bottle to take over to a friend's house or to a celebration if you're not looking to bust out an expensive Champagne. This will likely be my go-to now when I want to pop a bottle at home!

Story: I actually really like the story behind Juvé y Camps. It's a family owned winery near Barcelona that was founded in 1921. The history behind the winery actually started 200 years earlier with the founder's grandfather, Joan Juvé Mir, who was a grape grower. He faced many challenges, including phylloxera and the subsequent replanting of his vines. The first wines were made in the cellar under the family home, and the grandson, Joan Juvé Baqués, decided to start an official winery. Now, Juvé y Camps is regularly served at state banquets by Spain's royal family and is offered to guests of the national government, Senate, and Congress. 



Raid the Cellar with Laura Maniec: Napa Valley

I hope you aren't tired of hearing about Corkbuzz yet, because y'all, they do things right! Last month, The Cellar at Corkbuzz hosted an new event called "Raid the Cellar". For those in the Charlotte area who may not know, Corkbuzz recently opened a new Parisian-inspired wine shop and bar, and it's GREAT! 

Anyway, the event is a new monthly series they're starting in Charlotte called "Raid the Cellar" where Laura Maniec, Master Somm and co-founder/owner of Corkbuzz, comes to have a causal wine event showcasing some of her favorite picks. These "raids" came about from when Corkbuzz in New York would be having a wine class and Laura's Director of Wine would choose a selection within his allotted budget but Laura would always say, "But I really also want to pour X and Y, oh and what about Z!" So he would tell her, "Okay, okay -- go raid the cellar!" These events are much less structured than their normal classes and are really a way for people to relax, share some good wine, and of course, also learn a little. The "raids" will be themed and the first was focused on wines of Napa Valley.

We had three whites and three reds, all from various price points and areas of the Napa Valley region. The specific wines we had were:

The first two whites are interesting blends of varietals I wouldn't expect from Napa like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Ribolla gialla, an Italian white grape I'd never heard of. I especially liked the Abraxas from Robert Sinskey. Kongsgaard is a classic, big, oaky, creamy, nutty Napa Chardonnay. I typically lean toward crisp and citrusy whites because I like them to be refreshing, but Kongsgaard was hard to put down! The Napa Cabs were all good. These are the reds I "grew up on" because my father loves big bold reds, and these did not disappoint! Continuum was the boldest (and best) in my opinion, and Frog's Leap was lighter in body and more acidic than I was expecting, but I didn't have a problem finishing any of the glasses!

My favorite part of the evening, though, was hearing the stories of the wineries. Sinskey is a husband/wife team where Robert is an amazing photographer whose pictures adorn his labels and his wife is a super-star chef. Matthiasson was named winemaker of the year in 2014. Chateau Montelena is famous for being the winery that took down the French in the "Judgment of Paris" competition in 1976 with their Chardonnay. Finally, Continuum is a winery run by the children of Robert Mondavi, and they are dedicated to continuing the tradition of a family owned winery producing fine wine after Robert Mondavi (the winery) was sold in 2004. 

Finally, here are some other tidbits from the evening that I enjoyed and have tucked away:

  • Laura, even being a Master Somm, stressed that the most important thing about wine is that you enjoy it. I've always felt this way, but it was great that a Master Somm said the same thing.
  • Her mantra: "Don't believe your own hype." To me, she is a wine celebrity and so accomplished, but she is so down-to-earth and easy to talk to.
  • Finally, a wine nerd tip: Acid in wine is balanced by salt. Tannin in wine is balanced by fat. Important for wine and food pairings!

If you're in the Charlotte area, the next Raid the Cellar is next week and is focused on France! You bet I'll be there. If you'd like to sign up, you can register here!

Tasting Notes: 19 Crimes Red Blend

If you've never seen 19 Crimes, you may live under a rock. I'm just kidding, but really I have seen this wine everywhere. The frosted bottle and menacing label always intrigued me, plus I always thought it'd be nice to have a wine I liked that I could get almost anywhere, but for whatever reason I never bit the bullet. I'm not sure why, but I never did. Finally, my dad gave me a bottle to try. 

The Facts

  • Producer: 19 Crimes
  • Region: South Eastern Australia
  • Vintage: 2016
  • Variety: GSM blend (Grenache, Shiraz/Syrah, Mataro/Mourvedre) , with the majority being Shiraz.
  • Where I purchased: Widely available - Grocery store, Target, Costco, Total Wine, etc.
  • Price: $8.99 - $11.99

Eyes: This wine is DARK purple. It's got an opaque center to just a slightly lighter rim. Very characteristic color of a New World, young, Shiraz-heavy GSM blend. Expecting it to be a bold, flavorful wine.

Nose: Black fruit and vanilla. I also think it has sort of a medicinal smell that I can't say is pleasant. I'm not sure what that is coming from, but it reminds me of Robitussin or something. Needless to say, that was unexpected.

Mouth: Wine is full-bodied and a vanilla bomb. I know people will describe it's texture as "smooth", but to me it was lacking acidity and/or tannin. The texture just seems sort of one-note to me. The flavor that lingered after sipping was pleasant, probably because it was less vanilla-y. 

Thoughts: I can't lie... I was disappointed in this wine. I had a feeling before I even opened it (maybe because of the bottle design?) that it was going to be very vanilla-y, and that is exactly what I got. I wish I knew what their aging process or wine-making process was, but their website doesn't give much info. To me, there's something missing and it's tough to put your finger on what exactly that is. That being said, if you like full-bodied, oaky, smooth red wines, I think this is a good choice at an excellent price point with an availability that can't be beat. I know this wine is super popular, but for me, I prefer other bottles to this one for my every day. I will give them props for their marketing though -- crimes on each cork? Love it.