Happy Grenache Day to you all !!!

Some people complain that ‘there is a holiday for everything’ nowadays – but I think a holiday and a celebration is a wonderful thing – any time at all.    In this case, a group called the Grenache Symposium (their mission: promote grenache-based wines) has declared September 24 to be “International Grenache Day”.   My response: Let’s Celebrate!

The Grenache grape has Spanish origins and is commonly referred to as Alicante, Cannonau, Garnacha, and Grenache noir.   It is traditionally found in regions like Rioja, Priorat, Rhône, Sardinia, and in modern times some very successful Grenache wines have come from Australia and California.   Grenache is a popular blending grape because of its big fruit and relatively low tannins – just grab a bottle of Chateaufeuf du Pape and you will no doubt enjoy the high Grenache content blended with smaller amounts of the other 12 legal grape varieties of that famous Southern Rhone region in France.

Tonight I hope to open a bottle of a Chateauneuf du Pape, or maybe a South Australian new world Grenache blend – when I do, I will toast all those who make these wonderful wines, and I will think of all the other people enjoying a Grenache at the same moment!  Good Fun!

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2011 Penn State Wine Festival – Sunday September 25 1pm-5pm

It is that time of year again!   Mega-Volunteer Ted Liberti and his Central PA Colleagues have put together what looks like another fantastic Wine Festival to benefit WPSU in State College.   I checked the list of “who’s pouring” (link below) and among the broad variety of over 250 wines, I noticed a number of interesting wines that I plan to seek out as soon as the doors open.   The weather predictions are favorable, so I imagine many Pittsburghers will decide to make the beautiful drive through the Laurel Highlands to State College and enjoy the WPSU Wine Festival – if you go, please say hello!   Tickets for the Grand Tasting are only $65 and as a special feature this year, Philadelphia Sommelier Marni Old will present a seminar about Spanish Rioja Wines prior to the Grand Tasting.   Lastly, The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel is offering a special room rate for Sunday, September 25. Cost is $84 per room. Call 1-800-233-7505 and reference “WPSJ11A” to make your reservation.  

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Screaming good deal – Zardetto Private Cuvee NV Italy

A perfectly nice bubbly at a fantastic price!    What makes this bottle interesting to me is a combination of what it is and what it is not… So let’s start with what it is not: it is not Champagne, but at only $7.99 it is not priced like Champagne which would typically cost $35 for an entry level example.   Nor does the Private Cuvee taste like Champagne, but it IS a nice tasting bubbly  – and in my mind tastes better than any other super-value bubbly. Typically I would encourage saving the super value sparklers for mixing and climb up-market to the $10-$20 range and find a Cremant de Bourgogne or something of the sort.  But not this time – the Zardetto Private Cuvee is perfectly nice – with a fresh, soft fruity nose reminiscent of its Prosecco roots followed by pleasant apple (the addition of chardonnay in the blend helps) and peach flavors and a relatively dry finish (not the driest, but not sweet for sure).   Complex it is not, but pleasing it is!   If I were in need of a party wine I would not hesitate to buy the $7.99 Zardetto Private Cuvee by the case!  (PA code 32247)

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