Autumn reds for autumn foods – Rhone always delivers!

As weather turns chilly and leaves turn colors, much of what we eat turns toward warm, savory autumn meals and wine-enthusiasts’ thoughts often turn to warm and approachable Rhone style red wines.   Paired with hearty stews, and game night chili, the so-called “Rhone Varietals” are a solid red wine choice for the season’s cuisine.   Indeed anyone who has enjoyed a slow-cooked cassoulet paired with a Chateaunuef du Pape knows how wonderful this seasonal dish can be!

Grapes used in France’s Southern Rhone, or Rhone Varietals as they are often called (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan and several more which are produced in smaller quantities, 13 in total) are so-named because they are the primary components of the world famous wines of the Rhone Region.   By contrast, the Northern Rhone wine region features red wines produced principally from the single varietal Syrah mostly, yielding completely different personality which warrants a separate discussion.  Regarding the Southern Rhone, even if the grapes themselves are unfamiliar to many of us, many people have heard of wines from famous Southern Rhone sub-regions like Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas, not to mention the high-value and popular regional wines called “Cotes du Rhone”.

When blended, Southern Rhone grapes lend different character to their wines, Grenache brings spice and red berry fruit characteristics, Syrah contributes structure and smooth savory pepper and smoke qualities, while Mourvedre adds deep color and leathery dark fruit flavors.   When combined into a blend – Rhone wines from different makers and regions can range from round, deep sophisticated classic Chateauneuf du Pape to herbal, raw-meat-game flavors of top Gigondas, to rustic, fruit driven and affordable regional wines called Cotes du Rhone.

In a restaurant setting, an easy technique to locate these wines is to keep it simple and remember three letters: G, S and M (for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre).   Many winemakers around the world use the acronym “GSM” when naming wines that contain Rhone varietals and blends of them.   So with a quick reference to these three letters, or mention of Rhone Varietals, a knowledgeable restaurant sommelier will lead you to these wines.   Important to remember, is that these varietals are used in blends and on their own, in wines all over the world.   Differences between the old-world French and new-world versions fall along typical old/new-world lines with the French exhibiting slightly more herbal and complex savory fruit flavors while new-world versions are more dense and fruit driven.   But all over the wine world, Rhone varietals are produced with great success – so one needn’t focus purely on actual French Rhone wines (although you wouldn’t be disappointed!).

Australia has a celebrated wine history driven in a large party by Rhone varietals (Syrah, or Shiraz as the Aussies call it, and many containing traditional GSM blends).   South America and South Africa both are making waves for their Rhone varietal wines.   And in California there is even a group of wine-makers called ‘the Rhone-Rangers’ because of their steadfast commitment to making top quality Rhone blends, and several actual French Rhone winemakers are producing wines in California.   An added bonus: wines blended of these grapes from anywhere in the world are regularly food-friendly, so you cannot go wrong!

After some experimenting, you can identify different styles that appeal to you and can then seek them out in restaurants and at PLCB State Stores.   Here are some I recommend: 

Widely available Rhones/Rhone Styles at Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Stores:

Cotes du Rhone – regional wine meant to be consumed within a few years of release, these are fruity approachable wines with rustic Rhone characteristics.

PLCB Code: 8132 E Guigal Red Wine Cotes du Rhone 2010 $14.99 Sale Price: $12.99

PLCB Code: 6794 Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages $12.99 Sale Price: $11.99

PLCB Code: 6557 M Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge Cotes du Rhone $14.99

PLCB Code: 45213 JL Chave Mon Coeur Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2012 $21.99

Gigondas – meaty and rustic, often accessible when young, but can last many years.

PLCB Code: 33532 Domaine de la Tete Noir Gigondas 2012 $29.99

PLCB Code: 48191 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas 2011 $34.99

PLCB Code: 45033 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas 2012 $39.99

Chateauneuf du Pape – round, smooth and classic, Chateauneuf wines may last a long time, but don’t be afraid to try them when only a few years old.

PLCB Code: 7278 Domaine De Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape $41.99

PLCB Code: 6790  Clos de l’Oratoire Chateauneuf du Pape $44.99 Sale Price: $39.99

PLCB Code: 48462 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau 2011 $84.99

New World – generally more fruit driven but highly satisfying

Australia: PLCB Code: 46194 D’Arenberg Stump Jump GSM 2011 $9.99

Australia: PLCB Code: 38883 Schild Estate Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz Barossa Valley 2012 $14.99

USA: PLCB Code: 45523 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rouge Paso Robles 2011 $17.99

Pittsburgh Restaurants (subject to change of course):

Open Bottle Bistro in Shadyside (5884 Ellsworth Avenue) serves the J.L. Chave Selections’ “Mon Coeur” Cotes du Rhone for $9 per glass, and will sell a recent vintage of Domaine de la Solitude Chateauneuf du Pape from the 500+ year old producer for $95 per bottle.

Dinette in Shadyside (5996 Centre Avenue) serves a Cotes du Rhone, Domaine du Joncier 2012, for $11 per glass and $42 per bottle.

Lawrenceville’s Allegheny Wine Mixer currently features a Rhone blend from Corbieres (Southern France) for $9 per glass and $36 per bottle.  (Chateau Spencer La Pujade Corbieres – Carignan/ Mourvèdre/Syrah/Grenache – Languedoc, France 2012)

ROOT174 features Le Garrigon, Cotes du Rhone for $10 per glass

Downtown, The Carleton’s Wine List contains a Rhone section with 15 Rhone wines by the bottle, ranging in price from $32 to $220.  This list also features several Australian GSM blends and another section dedicated to American Syrahs and Rhone-style blends.

Stagioni serves TWO Rhone blends by the bottle, one from Vacqueras (Domaine du Terme, Vacqueyras, Rhone, 2010 $50) and a Cotes du Rhone (J.L. Chave Selections’ “Mon Coeur” 2012)

Eleven features several Rhone wines in the bottle list, ranging from $45 to $210.  None by the glass.

Legume features a French Rhone-blend (Corbieres) and an American (Qupe, Santa Ynez Valley), none by the glass.

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Next up: Rhone Tasting!

Our Bordeaux tasting/dinner at e2 (www.e2pgh.com) was certainly tasty and instructive – so we are moving forward to our next region where we will dive into some interesting wines of the Rhone region.   We will taste and discuss the wines as a group, and then finish with a dinner to see how they stand up (or change/improve) with food.   I am a huge fan of Rhone wines as I feel they offer great value for money and, even at the lower price points, a great deal of character and sense of place.  

An added dimension for this tasting is the inclusion of two currently unavailable vintages of Chateauneuf du Pape wines (2001 Marquis Anselme Mathieu and 2007 Chateau de Beaucastel), acquired through a friend who shares our interest in wine and was quite generous to help us include these fantastic wines in our tasting.

Seats are available for this Wed Oct 30 event at: http://www.off-the-grid.ws/2013/10/30/rhone/

France’s Rhone Region produces what many consider to be the most characterful, rustic and big wines in France.   Join us to taste two Rhone whites and three Rhone reds, including the historic and hard to find 2007 Vintage of Chateau de Beaucastel!!!   If you are interested in the flavors of the Rhone – you won’t want to miss this tasting/dinner.

We expect a fantastic dinner from our friends at e2 (probably something with Lamb this time) that will match wonderfully with the rustic Rhone wines.

Domaine de la Solitude, Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2012 – Southern Rhone White, exotic fruit flavors and clean finish.

J.L. Chave Sélection Saint-Joseph Blanc Céleste 2011  (90pts IWC) – Northern Rhone White from Roussanne and Marsanne grapes, rich and deep with long finish.

J.L. Chave Sélection Saint-Joseph Offerus 2010 (91pts IWC) – Syrah-based Northern Rhone Red, red fruit flavors, spicy and sleek.

Chateauneuf du Pape Marquis Anselme Mathieu 2001 – Fully mature example of Chateauneuf du Pape red, 90% Grenache grapes, blended with 10% traditional Southern Rhone grapes (13 varieties permitted).   This wine is light to medium bodied, with layered fruit flavors – not powerful at this point in its maturity, but pleasingly complex.

Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau de Beaucastel 2007 (96pts Robert Parker, 96pts Wine Spectator) – This is a serious and highly sought after wine, from one of the most successful vintages of the past two decades – Rich and complex with more Syrah content than most Chateauneuf du Pape reds this one shows flavors ranging from cedar to licorice to red fruits and floral notes – – tasting this will be interesting as it will be interesting to see how many of us agree with the critics!

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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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Wine events this week 21Mar11…

Kathryn Hall bottle signing – Tuesday 4-6pm East Side Wine & Spirits Store (Penn Circle South near Whole Foods)   If you are a fan of California Wines (I am) – here is an opportunity to meet Kathryn Hall, proprietor of Hall Wines (www.hallwines.com), who will be conducting a bottle signing & wine tasting at the Penn Circle Wine & Spirits store.  A limited number of HALL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, which garnered #18 on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010, will be available for purchase ($39.99) and signing.   These wines are highly sought after – so this may be the only opportunity we have to get them AND meet the winery owner! 

Tuesday Tasting 530-730p Braddock’s (Renaissance downtown Pgh)   $5 per glass – incredible value! (look’em up if you want!)   White – Codorniu Brut NV (Spanish Sparkler we’ve tasted before and enjoyed!)   Red – Beringer, Knights Valley Cabernet from the stunning 2007 Vintage      (don’t forget to try the $7 Lobster Gnocci!)

Wednesday Stateline Fine Wine (Weirton WV) 7pm – The Rhone Report with Greg and Dave    –    Just a few months ago Kate and I and our friends Manny and Debra enjoyed a few days in France’s Rhone Valley…   But Dave DeSimone (the Trib Review Wine writer) was in the Rhone only a few weeks ago and he tasted a HUGE number of wines so that he could come back and let us in on the upcoming releases of Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and more  – Plus, Greg Godels is Western PA’s legendary French wine importer who will share his vast knowledge as you taste and experience some fine Rhone Wines!    Incredible value at $15.00/person – please call or email to rsvp Martha Shaver, Proprietaire  Stateline Fine Wine wine@statelinefinewine.comcastbiz.net  Store phone number is: 1.304.723.45813520 Pennsylvania Avenue Weirton, WV 26062-4028  www.statelinefinewine.com

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:   Squonk Opera “Mayhem and Majesty” Exclusive Preview Party Wednesday March 30 6-8pm.     If you haven’t already heard – there is an exclusive preview party for Squonk’s new show “Mayhem and Majesty” at the New Hazlett Theatre – – only a limited number of tickets will be sold to experience “Behind the Mayhem” including discussion with the musicians ON STAGE to see how everything happens then have a reception with the Squonk crew – VERY cool opportunity AND Kate and I donated wine for the event too (whole party is only $20 per person) – details and tickets available http://www.squonkopera.org/

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Wines for French Happy Hour this Wednesday 16Mar11

In anticipation of great attendance for this Wednesday’s 5-7pm French Happy Hour at Brasserie 33 – we have chosen four high quality wines to go with the authentic French Happy Hour Menu – here they are:

White Chateau Richard Bergerac
White Domaine Philemon Gaillac
Red Domaine Guicharde Cotes du Rhone
Red Chateau Gobert Bordeaux

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American Syrah – 2009 Tensley Santa Barbara County Syrah

The wine makers around Santa Barbara gained ’mindshare’ with the general public after the movie “Sideways” depicted its main characters rolling from one winery to another in search of the finest wine offerings. This attention gave the region instant celebrity and legitimate respect as a wine region. Of course, there is truth to the statement that “hot” wine regions draw lots of attention, and sometimes more than is deserved. But the wine-truth that matters the most is that, regardless of a region’s “hotness” or “coolness”, a quality wine is always worth seeking out. I would not presume to judge whether or not the Santa Barbara region deserves the current level of attention, I have enjoyed wines from this region, so that is enough for me… So here we have what I consider a quality wine – the 2009 Tensley Santa Barbara County Syrah. Concentrated but not sweet – sleeker than many of the wines I consider overly extracted – an aspect quite common in California Rhone style wines. This wine has serious weight, but not at the expense of becoming jammy. Dark raspberry fruit notes dominate with undercurrent floral notes intertwined with smoky chocolate and mineral flavors. The finish rounds out with savory mineral notes, but nothing too angular. The wine is nicely balanced through the entire flavor profile – a great example of an American Syrah and worth seeking out for your next Syrah experience.

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Celebrate Australia Day with Australian Red Wines

As mentioned in the previous piece on Australian White Wine suggestions – below are some suggestions for currently available Australian Red Wine.   With Australia Day (on January 26th, the Australian equivalent of the US 4th of July) right around the corner we can all get ready with some great grilled foods (from an outdoor grill if you live in a warm enough climate – or you are very ambitious with your winter-charcoal techniques) and some great wine.  I’ve included links to the wineries so you can get the back story on the wines.

West Australian Cabernet and Blends – seems like the Margaret River and Great Southern regions including Frankland River, have become very popular Cabernet Sauvignon making regions.   There is press that suggests these areas are some of the coolest wine regions on the mainland of Australia (the island state of Tasmania is cooler still), but don’t be fooled, Australia’s mainland is generally VERY hot and while these areas are cooler relative to the hotter areas, they are still warmer than most regions in France and Italy for instance.   Recently I had a 1997 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet from Margaret River – it was beautifully balanced yet the concentrated fruit was still structured – an impressive wine for more than 10 years old.  I’ve also tasted 1999 Redgate Cabernet and more recent Moss Wood Cabernets – all truly fine wines that compete with some of the better French Bordeaux.   Some reliably good West Australian Reds:

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon any vintage (www.leeuwinestate.com.au) Margaret River – received 90-95 pts from various reviewers.

Ferngrove Majestic Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (www.ferngrove.com.au) Frankland River – multiple medal winner.

Redgate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (www.redgatewines.com.au ) Margaret River – 94 pts from reviewer James Halliday

Tasmanian Pinot Noir – although the wineries in Tasmania are still quite young compared to the Australian mainland (most Tasmanian wineries have come into existence in the past 20 years), there is an excitement about the cool climate Burgundian style Pinot Noir wines.   I am a huge fan of the old-school French Burgundy and not a big fan of new world Pinot Noir wines – so I was skeptical of the new Tasmanian Pinots – until I had a few.  The results are surprisingly good, and some are quite faithful to the Burgundian style that is close to my heart.  Here are some that I like:

Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir any vintage(www.frogmorecreek.com.au) – from a winery run by a kind and interesting American from California.  Tony Scherer has years of large scale organic farming under his belt, so when he decided to focus on wine grapes he had little difficulty with the transition – he says that he chose Tasmania because of the climate and the fact that Tasmania is generally free of pests, so organic grape farming organically is less challenging than other parts of the world.  

Pirie Wines “SOUTH” Pinot Noir any vintage (www.pirietasmania.com.au) – a much lauded wine-maker Andrew Pirie is the proprietor of this self-named estate.  The “SOUTH” Pinot Noir is a fine example of the current crop from Tasmania’s cooler wine making regions.

Shiraz and Shiraz Blends – Australia’s signature grape!   While much of the world thinks about this grape as Syrah, and that debate will likely continue, I just like the stuff.   Whether a Syrah or a Shiraz, from France (Rhone Valley) or Australia (or the USA), it is a grape that brings big, spicy flavors to the table.  Australia’s wine making regions are covered nearly 50% with Shiraz vines, some of them over 100 years old and still producing dense, flavorful, complex wines.   There are so many Shiraz choices that I get questions about how to locate a ‘Good’ Shiraz (in other words, a non critter-labeled-manufactured-tasting wine).   My answer is to stick to the names that have long term reputations for quality wine production and try a few new ones every now and again.   For me the interesting part of looking at an array of Australian Shiraz is that the source region really can make a difference (that French concept of Terroir again) and price point is not necessarily a determiner of quality.   To validate this point, if you were to try a South Australian (hot climate) Shiraz you would likely find the wine to be rich, heavy, thick with fruit and spice, whereas if you try a Shiraz from West Australia, New South Wales, and parts of Victoria (comparatively cooler climates), the wine would likely be leaner, peppery and more savory.   The price element is interesting too – some winemakers created wines for the export market as an attempt to cash in on the legitimately earned Australian wine reputation for great value wines – and sadly many of these were not good efforts and have since slightly diminished the overall reputation of Australian wines – but thankfully at many Australian wine estates there is a new emphasis on quality, right down to the least expensive wines produced.   This is a good thing for all consumers!   Here are some Aussie Shiraz /blends that I recommend:

Yalumba Y-Series Shiraz or Shiraz/Viogner 2009 (www.yalumba.com) South Australia – Australia’s oldest family owned winery, and one of the most successful as well.   The Y-Series wines present great consumer price point while delivering great wine value as well – these two reds are bright and spicy – more lively than many reds of the Barossa Valley.

Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet 2008 (www.jacobscreek.us) South Australia – A popular Australian blend of two grapes that in most parts of the world would not be put together, but it works successfully in this case.   The Jacob’s Creek business is huge (literally millions of cases produced every year), yet the wines, especially during the past few years, have seen a quality increase due to a great commitment by the wine makers to the smallest details, even when working on their least expensive line of under $10 wines – a success story for the consumer!   As a side note – Jacob’s Creek is an actual creek, or more of a dried up stream bed when I was there, but it does add some authenticity to the back story of this 150+ yr old winery.

D’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz 2008 (www.darenberg.com.au) McLaren Vale, South Australia – I would probably drink anything from this quirky yet highly regarded producer.   Located south of Adelaide in the McLaren Vale region, d’Arenberg may give light-hearted names to its wines, but there is nothing un-serious about their approach to wine.   The least expensive line, the Stump Jump series is a constant favorite and best value winner in popular wine magazines, and as you go up the range in price the wines become truly impressive – their top of the line “Dead Arm” Shiraz (approximately $60) is one of my all time favorites.

Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2008  (www.peterlehmannwines.com) Barossa, South Australia – Peter Lehmann once said that when God created Shiraz, he did so with the Barossa in mind!  While that comes across as boastful, I’ve visited the winery and it is actually modest compared to many.  The wines however are well constructed and I like them for their balance and depth of flavor – not to mention consistency – in fact Peter Lehmann’s Shiraz has been featured so often in so many top 100 lists that it seems an annual event to receive the awards.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2008 (www.penfolds.com.au) Barossa, South Australia – This inexpensive wine, first released in 1976 to huge reviews for the quality of wine at such a low price point, continues to impress.   Nearly every year I have a glass of this wine and wonder how Penfolds manages to create, in such large volume, a wine with flavor and character like this, at around $12 per bottle.   Of course if you feel like celebrating something significant you can always try to find a bottle of the Penfolds’ most famous wine (probably the most famous Australian wine), the Grange.  I’ve been fortunate to taste a couple of these $500 per bottle wines and while anyone could argue about the value presented in a bottle of wine costing $500, I would always argue that the wine is sensational, even if I might only rarely get a taste of it…

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Domaine Paul Autard Cotes-du-Rhone 2009

Jean-Paul Autard www.paulautard.com is not an old man, but he has a wealth of wine-making experience since taking over the family wine operation at age 17.   This domaine produces a range of wines including many award winning, highly sought after wines (Autard’s 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape “Cote Ronde” scored an impressive 97 pts from the Wine Spectator).    On a recent visit, Jean-Paul Autard took a few minutes away from his very busy time to speak with us.  Early October is at the end of the exhausting harvest and during the middle of the wine-making process that lasts several weeks, and we could tell that Jean-Paul and his wine-makers were visibly tired, despite their weariness, they were still very gracious toward us Americans.   While Autard’s Chateauneuf wines are the most impressive and famous, Autard’s Cotes-du-Rhone is far less expensive, more accessible and more widely available in the USA, so for the moment we will focus on the Cotes-du-Rhone.   I’ve been impressed with this wine in past vintages and the just-released 2009 vintage continues the trend.   The 2009 Domaine Paul Autard Cotes du Rhone blends 70% Grenache – 15% Syrah – 15% Counoise (the latter is a relatively rare grape, used mainly for blending in small amounts… it adds a slight pepperiness to the wine), and presents itself as bright and vibrant – which nicely expresses the exceptionally hot 2009 vintage – not as hot as the record breaking levels of 2003, but despite the 2009 growing season starting rather wet, by mid-summer 2009 featured 24 days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.   One can virtually taste the hot weather in the wine as the bright fruit flavors burst with blackberry and plum fruits and finish with well balanced grip.  Overall this 2009 Domaine Paul Autard Cotes du Rhone punches above its weight, making the roughly $15 price tag a big bargain for a fine Rhone Wine.   If you can find it, buy some and drink them over the next 1-3 years.

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International Wines and Cheeses

After several wine and cheese cruises along Pittsburgh’s three rivers (for those unfamiliar, the rivers are: Allegheny, Monongahela and the Ohio), there is no waning of interest.  To stoke the enthusiasm even more, our cheese expert David Bennett (I refer to him as a ‘cheese-ist’) invited his colleague “Dearheart” the top cheese-monger from one of the most popular and high volume cheese markets in Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.   These efforts brought a very enthusiastic crowd of attendees, all with an interest and passion for what we presented – which makes our hard work all the more rewarding.   Below are some notes on the wines and cheeses.

Pacific Rim White Flowers Sparkling Riesling – Washington State.    Beautiful floral nose of light citrus fruit, this Riesling is fermented with the skins to add weight and texture.  The palate includes flavors that start rich and hinting at sweetness, then finish dry, clean and crisp.    Brillat-Savarin is a decadent cow’s milk cheese named after the 18th century French gourmet Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. An extraordinary cheese, one of the world’s best. Rich and creamy, sophisticated and delicious.

Faustino VII – Rioja, Spain.   This wine is light-bodied, super clean, and traditional Rioja Tempranillo.  Flavors of subtle red fruits with a velvety mouth feel, complemented by balanced fruit and vanilla notes.  This wine spends 10 months in American oak, sourced from PA and WV!!!   Drunken Goat – Goat’s milk cheese made in Jumilla, Murcia, Spain. Submerged in Doble Pasta wine (Mourvedre grapes) for 72 hours.  Delicate wine taste, fruity, with a sweet finish.

Domaine de Piaugier Les Ramieres – Southern Rhone, France.   A big mouthful of clean fruit, this wine is sourced from 45 year old vines in the Vauclouse region of Southern Rhone.  A blend of mostly Grenache, with smaller amounts of Syrah and Mourvedre.  Flavors of red berry, strawberry and herbs – no oak in this wine – all dark fruits with lingering finish!   Fiore Sardo – Sardinian sheep’s milk, made from an ancient tradition that predates the Roman conquest of Sardinia. Milk is from the descendants of wild sheep that still roam the island. Wonderful complexity and flavor. Remarkable cheese!

Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – California.   Cabernet Sauvignon is a strong and hearty grape that requires a long season of heat and sun to ripen, but then reveals a wonderfully complex reward for the taster.  A fine example of ‘new world’ cabernet, with cherry, plum and currant flavors backed by some notes of spicy tobacco, leather and oak.   Beemster Extra Aged – Intense flavor with a marvelous sweet finish, a tradition in the Netherlands for more than 800 years.  Aged for 18 months. Amazing bursts of flavor and complexity. A taste of honey, caramel, butterscotch.

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WPSU Wine Festival & Celebration – State College September 19th

When Pittsburghers think about driving a couple of hours to a wine event, many might be think ‘why bother’, since the State of Pennsylvania is known to have generally similar choices at all the state owned wine shops across the state.   But wait – this event looks a little different.   For anyone thirsting for wine knowledge and seeking a chance to sample a broad variety of wines in one setting, the drive up to State College will be very attractive.  (http://wpsu.psu.edu/radio/programs/wine_celebration)

Ensuring that the event will be as wine-focused as possible is the event’s co-chair Ted Liberti, who is an energetic wine-enthusiast, and has studied wine all around the world.   Thanks to a great deal of work by Ted and the other capable co-chairs and directors, the WPSU Wine Festival & Celebration promises to provide an interesting experience to all attendees at all levels of interest and background. 

September is a beautiful month for a drive through Pennsylvania’s countryside, and an event like this one in State College makes the road trip even more compelling!

Here are some interesting facts and links:

  • Ticket cost is $60 each in advance and online, $75 each at the door.  http://wpsu.org/tv/purchasetickets/wine_celebration
  • Huge variety of wines will be available to sample, including many American Cabernets and Pinots, an Italian Barolo, a number of Spanish wines and even a couple of Rhone reds – here is the current list: http://wpsu.org/assets/static/wine_celebration/whos_pouring10.html
  • Book Signing/Tasting – wine writer Marnie Old will present a VIP wine and food pairing for an additional $20 per person.  Marnie will be selling and signing copies of her most recent wine and food pairing book entitled, “Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs.”
  • Added bonus: This event features the PLCB’s on-site store where the PLCB will offer for sale 80 listed and luxury wines for sale from among the wines featured at this year’s festival.
  • The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel is offering a special room rate for Sunday, September 19. Cost is $84 per room, plus 8.5% tax. Call 1-800-233-7505 and reference the “WPSU Wine Celebration” to make your reservation.
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