Sparkling wines have been around for ages, evolving over the years. The Classic Method or Traditional method of creating sparkling wines is used around the world. But the Term Champagne is used only in the area of Champagne, France with a few exceptions. Even other areas of France do not used the Term Champagne!
In the Champagne area, they use Chardonay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. However, each area of the world uses different grapes for making their sparkling wines, from Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo used in Spain’s Cavas to Glera and Muscat used in Italy’s Prosecco or Shiraz used in Australia. There are many methods of creating sparkling wines including adding carbon dioxide in less expensive wines. Though the English first figured out how to recreate sparkling wines in the 1600’s, the French perfected it!
What ever you choose, we wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
I bought an amazing rib eye steak and thought about what I’d like to pair it with. I rummaged through my wine cooler and found a 2014 Chateau Tumbleweed, 100% Syrah from Cimarron Vineyard.
One of the most outstanding things that Chateau Tumbleweed does, is put everything you wanted to know about a wine on their bottle labels. The wine was harvested on September 3rd and was grown at an elevation of 4300 feet. The wine was cold-soaked for 24 hours, punched down by hand 3-4 times daily and stayed on the skins for 11 days. It went through malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak. It was also unfined/unfiltered and came in at 15% alcohol.
The color was a deep garnet purple. The nose reflected notes of earth, prune and alcohol. The palate showcased flavors of mocha, raspberry, currant, chalk, and dates. I ended up aerating it to bring out more of the flavors. The wine though three years old could easily lay down for a few more years. Clearly this wine has an impressive ageability. Oh Arizona Syrah!
This week we celebrated National Sangria Day on December 20th, 2017. Sangria is a delicious, refreshing drink, in the summer but still very enjoyable in the winter. This drink is a combination of red or white wine with club soda, brandy, sugar and fruit . It originated in Spain and there are a large variety of recipes.
This is one of my favorite Sangria recipes using red wine since it’s winter time:
Make sure all ingredients are chilled. In a large punch bowl mix the juices and sugar. Add in the wine, club soda, brandy, fruit and ice if desired, Serve immediately. You can also add some cinnamon sticks for additional flavor.
If you don’t have time to make it yourself visit one of our Northern Arizona tasting rooms for some amazing sangria. Two of my favorites are at Oak Creek Winery and Javelina Leap.
This week my study group focused on Spain. Spain is renowned for many great wines, so it was hard to choose what to bring as a sample. In the Jerez area, Sherry is King. I found an interesting bottle of a still white wine made from the Palomino grape, which is one of the principal grapes of sherry production in Spain. The Vino de La Tierra de Cadiz, 2015 Barbadillo, Castillo de San Diego, white wine from Cadiz, Spain was a very pleasant surprise! Made from 100% Palomino grapes, this dry white wine showcases aromas of fresh fruit and citrus and the palate had notes of pineapple, citrus and kiwi. The mouth feel was slightly creamy and smooth. It has 12% alcohol and would pair well with fish, cheese and Japanese food. The winery also won winery of the year in 2015 by the Guia Penin, a distinctive Spanish wine guide. So whether you are choosing Sherry or still wine the Palomino grape is very versatile. Salud!
Lager, being a typically lighter beer, is frequently drunk in the summer. Now here we are in December, past Oktoberfest time, and celebrating Lagers! Even though we usually think of Lagers as being light, and a low ABV, they are created in a variety of strengths. Sometimes you might find a darker colored Lager and think that it will have stronger flavors, but that’s not always the case. Lagers originated in Germany and are created by a cold fermentation process. German Lagers had historically been darker brews and home to Bocks. German and European brewers tended to be under stricter brewing laws than in the United States, with limitations on additives, types of grains and preservatives. However, these laws have been changing over the last 25 years.
One of my favorite beers, Pilsners, that I drank a lot of in Prague, is an offspring of Lager. When in Mexico, I’ve been known to drink Negra Modelo, a darker Lager. And if you’re in Sedona and the Verde Valley, it’s a wonderful opportunity to try our local craft Lagers such as an Oak Creek Gold Lager. Don’t you just love these beer holidays? Whatever Lager you choose to celebrate with, enjoy the day!
My daughter is studying at Yavapai College in the dual Viticulture and Enology program. She had her Enology final last night and asked me to study with her and quiz her. I was amazed at how many of the questions that I knew the answers to. The depth of information that is covered in the CSW book and workbook is remarkable. There is still so much more to learn and I plan on starting over again in January. Next week my study group from Yavapai will be covering Spain, one of my favorite Countries for wine. What’s always fun with the Yavapai group study sessions is that everyone brings a bottle of wine from the country we are studying and therefore, we get to try a variety of wines from the area. Maybe I’ll write on one of Spanish varietals next week😊
One of the worlds most famous wines Cabernet Sauvignon, is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. So what is Cab Franc? It is one of the varietals in a Bordeaux blend and is frequently used in blends. It's also a parent of Merlot, tends to ripen early as well, and is softer than Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it is the main red grape in Chinon and Bourguell; wines from Touraine’s in the Loire Valley region of Northern France.
In honor of Cab Franc Day, I chose a 100% Arizona estate wine called Primos de Bordeaux from Rio Claro wines at Clear creek Vineyards. This 2012 wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot and has 13.9% alcohol. It is a medium bodied dry wine and showcases aromas of cherries, berries and brandy notes. The palate also offers flavors of vanilla and earth. The finish comes in at around 37 seconds.
You’ll want to decant the wine for about 45 minutes to bring out the full flavors. It paired beautifully with my grilled steak and garlic green beans. So I'm happy today to honor Cab Franc and its many relatives!
Since we are in the season of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share a cute anecdote of how the Pilgrims ended up on Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrims had charted the Mayflower in England with the intended destination of sailing to Virginia. However, during the voyage, there had been a few storms and the boat was thrown off course. The voyage was taking much longer than expected. When they arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Captain was concerned about his crew possibly mutinying if they did not have enough beer for the voyage back to England so, he ordered the Pilgrims off his ship never taking them to their final destination. So instead of “Let Them Eat Cake”, it was “Let Them Drink Water”!
Sue Schurgin, CSW, (Certified Specialist of Wine). WSET II, is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She loves wine and beer education and is also a Level 1 Sommelier.