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: Piazza Del Dotto Pinot Noir

I may have missed February, but I did not forget "Favorite Friday" for March! To celebrate the end of our "busy seasons", K and I treated ourselves to a delicious meal at a popular Charlotte restaurant called Barrington's. It is a fantastic little place with absolutely delicious food and a cozy atmosphere. We typically bring a bottle there every time we go, and since we weren't sure what we were having, we wanted something a little lighter on the red side. We both loved this Pinot Noir the first two times we had it, so we felt like it was a good choice to take with us on our celebratory meal.

The Facts

  • Producer: Del Dotto Vineyards
  • Region: Sonoma Coast 
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Local wine shop
  • Price: $38-$40

As a little more background on this wine, Del Dotto is a famous winery in the Napa area. Their website features their most prominent feature... the beautiful house that mirrors Italian architecture and lavishness. They have several vineyards around the various towns in the valley, and Piazza Del Dotto, where this wine is from, is the most recent addition. It is located in Oakville, Napa Valley. 

  • Eyes: Immediately upon pouring this wine out, you can tell it's more of a "masculine" Pinot Noir. Ever since our Pinot Noir tasting (discussed here), I have always divided Pinots into the feminine and masculine pools. The color was deeper and the wine was more opaque. There were distinguished legs, which implies high alcohol. This was confirmed by the label which indicated it was 15% alcohol!
  • Nose: This wine smells AMAZING. I know those "Rewined" candles exist, but this wine's aroma should definitely be made into a candle. It smelled of red fruit like strawberry and raspberry with the slightest hint of vanilla. Seriously, I think this wine has had my favorite aroma so far.
  • Mouth: If this wine smells good, it tastes even better. It is more medium bodied and is heftier than a lot of Pinot Noirs out there. The wine is fruit forward with the berries and the there is a hint of spice. It is so smooth and just so pleasant to drink. If you aren't a fan of tannins, I think this wine would be for you. 
  • Thoughts: I think it's pretty clear that I love this wine. It has officially brought me over into a lover of Pinot Noirs, and more specifically, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs. It is just so delicious and the depth of the flavor is amazing. For people who typically drink fuller bodied and fuller flavored wines, I think this would be a great option if you ever needed something lighter. The only downside? Outside of the tasting, I'm not sure how to get it. I know that somewhat defeats the purpose of sharing my tasting notes... if you can't buy it anywhere, then what's the point? Let me tell you, I'm going to find a way to get this wine. I will be checking out all the wine shops around, and at the very least, I know you can order it from the winery via the link above. At this price point, it's definitely not an every day bottle, but for a special occasion, why not have a stunning $40 choice?!

UPDATE: If you live in Charlotte, I did find it at Reid's Fine Foods for $39.99. 



Blind Tasting Dinner with Laura Maniec

Happy New Year to everyone! It's been a crazy few weeks with lots of travel and time with family, and it was great to take a break from "real life". Unfortunately, my day job picks up 1,000% once the new year starts, so it'll be a hectic two months, but I'm trying not to think about it too much!

The greatest thing that happened over the break? I watched the series Uncorked on the Esquire channel. If you haven't heard of this series and are a wine enthusiast, I definitely recommend checking it out. It is similar to the documentary Somm where it follows a group of candidates for the Master Sommelier (MS) exam.  I found it very entertaining and enlightening to see the process these people go through. One of the Master Sommeliers on the show that was training, mentoring, as well as judging the candidates was Laura Maniec, co-owner and founder of Corkbuzz restaurants. They have two locations in NYC and one in Charlotte, so I was thrilled to see the woman behind one of my favorite restaurants! She is one of 32 women to have earned the MS certification, so she's definitely someone to look up to in the industry. K and I went to eat dinner at Corkbuzz last week and they mentioned that Laura was coming in town to host a blind wine tasting dinner. That sounded awesome and I really wanted to meet her, so I jumped at the opportunity!

The dinner was great. As Laura mentioned, she was just "hosting a dinner party" for some of the Charlotte patrons, and it definitely felt that way! The dinner was three courses and five wines were selected for blind tasting... two with our first course, two with the main course, and one with dessert.  She poured both wines at the same time and then we went through the descriptors just as sommeliers do during the MS or other certification exams. At the end, we had to guess the grape varietal, region, and vintage! I was nervous at first, but in no time, I was having fun. My tasting skills definitely need to improve if I ever wanted to join the sommelier world, but it was a great starting point and fun experience! Laura was a fabulous host and graciously answered everyone's questions. I will definitely be back to Corkbuzz for more events in the future!

Wines We Had

Course: Crab Bisque with cauliflower, celery root, and nutmeg

Wine 1: Domaine des Baummard Savennieres, 2011, Loire Valley, France, $26

This wine was a Chenin Blanc and confused everyone! It was very crisp and refreshing with higher acid, so we deduced it was Old World. It had flavors of bruised apple, pear, tree fruit, and had little evidence of oak. Grapes guessed were Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine 2: LIOCO Chardonnay, 2014, Sonoma County, California, $24

I found this one to be easy to identify having had several Chardonnays from the area. I also think the Chardonnay grape, especially if there is a hint of oak, has a very distinctive nose to it, so I called this one. Others also suggested Sauvignon Blanc, but I found the color to scream Chardonnay, and there was no citrus or tropical fruit to it.

Course: Pork tenderloin with pumpkin puree, spaghetti squash, and onion jam

Wine 1: Albert Bichot Santenay 1er cru "Clos Rousseau', 2012, Burgundy, France, $30

This wine had a big nose, so I was surprised when the flavor didn't really come through for me. It had more earthy notes, which indicates Old World. Other aromas were some red and black fruits. It was lighter in body, so I immediately thought Pinot Noir. I know Pinot Noir is most well known from Burgundy in the Old World, so that was my guess. I wrote down a random year (I had heard 2012 was a great year for Pinot Noir in the US, but there was really no reason other than that), and I got it right! I was proud. Might as well give me my MS pin now...

Wine 2: Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso, 2012, Tuscany, Italy, $34

This wine was my favorite. It smelled amazing and definitely was more full-bodied than the previous wine. I had absolutely NO clue what it was, but I did note hints of spice in the nose, which I love. It ended up being a blend from Tuscany which included Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The Syrah is what brings out the spice/pepper notes, while the Merlot kept it smooth with chocolate flavors. It was delicious and we ended up purchasing a bottle at the end of the dinner.

Course: Maple Panna Cotta with graham cookies

Wine: Elderton Shiraz, 2012, Barossa Valley, Australia, $30

This wine was the most full bodied and had the darkest color. It had the spice notes again, so I should have wondered about Syrah. Other wine varietals that provide spice are Granache, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and ZInfandel. I'm not sure how you would distinguish Old World versus New World on this one, but hey, I'm not an MS. I enjoyed this wine, so I think I should try more of this varietal.



Tasting Notes: Olema Chardonnay

This is the second wine from my Total Wine 2015 Challenge. So far so good!

The Facts

  • Producer: Amici Cellars
  • Region: Sonoma, California
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Chardonnay
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $15.99
  • Eyes: Nice light golden color, maybe even more yellow than golden. Pours like a medium body.
  • Nose: This wine smells very fruit forward. I definitely smelled apple and pear. I didn't get any hint of oakiness on the nose.
  • Mouth: Just like the smell, I definitely tasted apple and pear. I felt like it was pretty crisp and fresh for a chardonnay. There is a little bit of "butter", but as my husband put it, "not as buttery as some of the other crappier chardonnays I've had." To put it more eloquently, I would say it is "medium butter", if that is a thing. Good acidity, balanced. Upon further research, I saw descriptors like zesty, melon, marzipan, candied lemon, and light oakiness.
  • Thoughts: I think this is a great introduction to the world of chardonnay. Its "medium butter" and light oakiness aren't overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with the flavor profile. I typically don't care for oaky and buttery whites, and I found this one to be tasty. It is a good value at under $20, although I probably wouldn't get it for an "every day" white. I think this is best served during a nice weekend meal or as a host/hostess gift for someone who enjoys chardonnays or whites!