Sunday, February 24, 2019

Piper Hiedsick is an Oscar-worthy choice for tonight

Piper-Heidsieck is the official Champagne of the Oscars, so when you tune in tonight you’ll know this is the bubbly that the stars themselves will be celebrating with. Why not pick up some bottles for your own Oscar-watching party to commemorate a great year of film?  Whether you’re rooting for Rami Malek or Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close or Melissa McCarthy, you can drink like a Hollywood star.

Nothing says elegance like Champagne, and Piper-Heidsieck has been a glamorous choice for centuries – Marie Antoinette loved to drink the cuvee in the eighteenth century. Over the years, Piper-Heidsieck was poured at royal courts across Europe and Asia.

Adding elegance to your own Oscar watching – whether at a posh party or in your PJs – is as easy as popping a cork of Piper-Heidsick.  Your choice of snacks runs the gamut, as Champagne pairs with nearly everything! But perhaps the best choice tonight is to drink Champagne with buttered popcorn.  So start popping and pouring to get ready for Hollywood’s big night.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Valdivieso exceeds its sparkling reputation with well-crafted Chilean reds

The neon Valdivieso sign - a larger-than-life bottle of sparkling wine being poured into two flutes - is so beloved a fixture in Santiago that it was declared a national monument in 1954. The winery was the first sparkling wine producer in the Americas, having produced its popular bubbly since 1879.

And while the historic winery still enjoys wide popularity for its sparkling wine, it is also exploring Chilean terroir to create a range of still wines for both domestic and export markets. 

I had the opportunity to meet Valdivieso winemaker Brett Jackson in New York recently at a media event.  Brett began making wine in his native New Zealand, and -- in a career that has spanned decades -- he also has made wine in Napa, Stellenbosch, and Southwest France.  Brett brought this world-wide experience with him when he joined the winery, and he's made great strides in strengthening its still wine program.  We tasted through some of the winery's current releases of red wines, and I was impressed by their overall elegance and balance. 

Valdivieso Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2015, Curico Valley - A gorgeous, rich rendition of Cab Franc with ripe red berries and minerality. 

Eclat Cinsault 2017 - A delicate wine, with a translucent ruby color. This wine also had red berries on the palate and a crisp light weight.  Brett told us it is dry farmed from vines on their own rootstock and fermented in stainless steel to preserve its freshness. 

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Apalta 2014, Colchuagua Valley - Brett informed us that the "crazy horse" reference in the name was from one of the winery owners who was a larger than life character.  He  explained that the Caballo Loco wines are meant to reflect the "essence" of where they come from.  This wine from Apalta is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. The rich, full-bodied wine has ripe red and black fruits and a mineral finish - a bold wine for steaks, chops, and hearty stews. 

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2014, Limari Valley - This wine showcases Syrah from the Limari Valley, where its proximity to the coast produces a cool influence but there is also plenty of sunshine. The vineyard soils contain calcium as well as salt. This was another big wine, with full mouthfeel, and it exhibited fully ripe black fruits, spice, good acidity, slight minerality and a long finish.  

Valdivieso Eclat Old Vines Blend Vigno 2010 - This project blends old vine Carignan and Mourvedre from the Maule Valley with at least 40 to 60 years of age.  All of the grapes are from bush vines that are dry farmed.  The resulting wine has a delightful freshness, with sweet bing cherry flavor -- and a high acidity that makes it ageworthy.  

The still red wines from Valdivieso that we tasted were high quality and well-balanced, and all sell at appealing price points between $25-$35.  For lighter style reds, reach for the Cinsault or Cabernet Franc. And for a bold red pour, the Caballo Loco line delivers.  

Sunday, February 3, 2019

American football deserves the iconic American wines of Robert Mondavi

Stumped about what wine to pair with cheering for the Super Bowl?  With over 50 years of play, the game is as American as you can get, so why not pour an iconic American wine? 

Robert Mondavi was one of the pioneers of Napa Valley, founding his eponymous winery in 1966.  Robert Mondavi wines created from the now-legendary To Kalon vineyard (the name means "highest beauty" in ancient Greek), are wonderfully expressive. This vineyard sources the winery's signature Fumé Blanc - the Sauvignon Blanc named with a nod for the Loire Valley's Pouilly Fume - as well as its superlative Cabernet Sauvignon.

Looking for some delicious wine and food pairings for tonight's game? 

  • 2016 Robert Mondavi Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc with oysters - The aromatic citrus notes of the Sauvignon Blanc along with its creamy mid-palate will match wonderfully with fresh oysters.
  • 2017 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir Caneros with stuffed mushroom caps - this lighter-bodied red with notes of dark cherries and baking spices is a good weight to pair with this crowd-pleasing vegetarian appetizer. 
  • 2014 Robert Mondavi Oakville BDX Napa Valley with pepper-bacon potato skins - This Bordeaux-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from the To Kalon vineyard and Cabernet Franc make a plummy, lush red wine that's not shy on flavor and will deliciously pair with rich and smoky bacon on these classic game-time snacks. 
  • 2014 Robert Mondavi Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley with grilled steak nachos.  Gorgeous layers of dark fruit are expressed in this lush wine, which will beautifully complement the seared steak of this shareable dish.