Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Blue Duck Tavern

If you are in Washington, DC, a restaurant worth checking out is The Blue Duck Tavern, located in the Northwest section (24 & M Streets, NW). The restaurant showcases an open staff pantry and kitchen, complete with a wood-burning oven, as well as the showpiece custom-designed commercial Molteni range, crafted in France and the first of its kind in Washington, D.C. Handcrafted furnishings and heavy, uncovered wood tables keep the restaurant warm and contemporary, offering a welcoming dining experience.

The Blue Duck Tavern welcomes you with wholesome American fare prepared through simple, time-honored cooking methods such as roasting, braising, preserving and smoking. This contemporary neighborhood tavern evokes the warmth and convivial setting of a residential kitchen and gathering place. The restaurant also recognizes the purveyors and artisans who enrich their menu with their fresh ingredients.

As usual, I zeroed in on local wines on the menu, in this case there were several options by the glass and in bottle. Before ordering food, I started with the Cabernet Franc Rosé, from the Boxwood Winery, located in Middleburg, VA. With my food I opted for the Vin Rouge (a Bordeaux Blend) from Glen Manor, located in Front Royal, Virginia.

Not sure what ingredients were sourced in Path Valley, PA (maybe all?), but I really enjoyed my Sweet Potato Pasta, Salsify, Brussels Sprouts, Huckleberry and Pumpkin. Both wines were excellent with the meal as well.

Entree items chosen by my companions included Wood Oven Fired Waygu Cullotte of Beef (from Durham Ranch, WY) with Red Wine Braised Shallots, the Wood Burning Oven Roasted Maine Scallops from Viking Village, ME, Whole Roasted Fish of the Day (Bream) from Congressional, MD, and the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes (Chesapeake Bay, MD) with Frisée, Fennel and Sweet Mustard Dressing. All entrees were deemed very good, though the whole fish caused some problems with loose bones.

Of the three deserts, Apple Pie, Straight from the Oven Chocolate Cake with Maker’s Mark Flambe and Pear, Blackberry and Almond Crumble with Creme Fraiche, the first and last were much appreciated, while the chocolate cake fell flat.

Overall, I thought the experience a worthwhile one. The food and wine options were wide-ranging and I am a sucker for any locally sourced, farm-to-table concept. However, the service was inconsistent, ranging from nonexistent to great. Also, while the food was outstanding, I felt the restaurant was flirting dangerously with the line of being overpriced. All that being said, I would still recommend this for a nicer evening meal out.

Blue Duck Tavern on Urbanspoon

For more info or reservations, check out the Blue Tavern website or read their blog.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Tasting: Epicuro Aglianico del Beneventano 2009

Epicuro Aglianico del Beneventano 2009
$5.99 Trader Joe's

Aroma: Dark cherries
Texture: Medium-bodied
Taste: Dark cherries
Finish: Lingering

Easy drinking on its own, but slightly tannic feel goes better with food.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Wine Personality Test

Discover the perfect wine for you.

Wine is known for its extraordinary complexity and diversity - no two bottles are alike. And just as there are many different reds, whites and everything in between, every wine drinker has their own unique personality.

The Little Penguin Wine Personality Test will help you find your ideal wine match, and all you have to do is think like the little guy himself. Whether you identify with the strong alpha male, or even the home-making ladybird, we have the perfect wine to match your unique penguin persona.

My results?

I am a Shiraz Cabernet!

I am not afraid of taking risks. A natural-born problem solver, no challenge is too big for me to take on. Being a deep, intellectual bird, I take time to contemplate the important things in life. As I stare into my deep purple glass of Little Penguin Shiraz Cabernet, I find meaning, as well as smooth, juicy taste.

All in good fun, right? What's YOUR wine personality?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

A Turkey Trot, a brunch, and several hours of outstanding conversation, food, wine, and football were part of our Thanksgiving celebration yesterday. I added 2 more varietal grapes to my Wine Century Club project - Carmenere and Prosecco, so it was a successful day in every way possible.

Have a great weekend all!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wine Spectator 2011 Top 100 Wines

Every year since 1988, Wine Spectator has compiled a list of the wines reviewed over the past 12 months. These 100 wines reflect significant trends, recognize outstanding producers and spotlight successful regions and vintages around the world.

In 2011, the list was selected from more than 16,000 new releases the editors rated in independent blind tastings. More than 5,400 of these wines earned outstanding or classic ratings (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale). They narrowed the list down based on four criteria: quality (represented by score); value (reflected by release price); availability (measured by cases made or imported); and what is called the “X-factor”–the excitement generated by a rising-star producer, a benchmark wine or a significant milestone for a wine region. But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect the editors’ judgment and passion about the wines tasted.

In this year’s list, 12 countries are represented, and quality remains high, with an average score of 93 points. The average price per bottle dipped from last year from $48 to $44, compared with a $70 average for 90-point wines reviewed this year.

Of the Top 100, for domestic wines, only a few were from outside the typical U.S. states represented (CA, OR, WA):
  • #43 -  90 points, $14 Gruet - Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV
  • #72 -  90 points, $16 Ravines - Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2009
Congratulations to those two wineries! Did I overlook any? Let me know.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tasting: Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Bianco

N.V. Le Grotte Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Bianco
$3.99 from Trader Joe's (I think that's what we paid)

Aroma: Green apples
Texture: Light-bodied, acidic, and fizzy
Taste: Citrusy, green apples, banana
Finish: Lingering

Very sweet, bubbly, and goes with pretty much any type of food you can think of. The green apple scent and taste add an acidic component to balance the sweet banana flavor. Well-worth searching out, especially for the price.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Backyard Vintner Book Review

“Procrastination is a grapegrower’s worst enemy and a winemaker’s best friend.”

Jim Law’s The Backyard Vintner (Beverly, MA: Quarry Books, 2005) is a wonderful and simplified introductory text to anyone who is considering making wine at home.

Law is the award-winning, small-batch vintner and owner of Linden Vineyards in Linden, Virginia, which is about an hour outside of Washington DC. He also writes, lectures, and teaches classes on wine making.

This book is full of Inspiring photographs and how to illustrations that demonstrate techniques for growing grapes and making wine. Tips on determining what kind of soil you have, how fertile it is, and which grapes are best suited to it are included, along with guides to which types of grapes will grow best in your climate. Ideas on making, storing, and appreciating wines for readers at both the professional and nonprofessional level make this a useful reference tool for your wine library.

One of the things I most appreciated about this book was the thoroughness of the process from choosing a site, deciding on grape varieties, all the way to harvesting and then vinifying the grapes. Law espouses non-interventionist wine-making, but also points out spots in the process where a timely tweak can make the difference between a good or great or undrinkable wine.

If you are thinking of making wine at home, be it from a kit or from grapes you’ve grown yourself, this book could prove to be a valuable resource. If you’ve ever had the itch to make it yourself, this book will convince you that you can do it – very motivating! If you are just curious about the process, this simplified look makes it easy to understand.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Bouchard Aîné et Fils 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau

Bouchard Aîné+ Fils 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau
$11.00 (purchased at Printer's Row Wine Shop)

Aroma: Berries and bananas
Texture: Thin
Taste: Fruity, tart
Finish: Minimal

Laima and I celebrated NouveauDay by getting a bottle of the 2011 Bouchard Aîné et Fils Beaujolais Nouveau, made from Gamay grapes (the 35th varietal grape on my Wine Century Club list). It's been many years since I had a Nouveau, opting instead to look at more "serious" wines. This year I thought it would be a nice way to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

The wine itself came in an understated bottle, somewhat disappointing for a Nouveau, but it's what inside that counts, right? Immediate aroma of bananas (what I remembered from the past), with some berry as well. The taste was much more tart than expected, I was hoping for more sweetness, with just a faint hint of effervescence. Nothing wrong with it, just not my taste -- I won't be getting another bottle.

For over two centuries, the House of Bouchard Aîné et Fils has had as its mission an unyielding quest for perfection in quality, authenticity of style, the prestige that lies in a name, and perfect mastery of grape selection, winemaking and ageing. The first négociants came into being at the beginning of the 18th century to meet the demand of French and Flemish clients in particular; this was the beginning of the development of international trade.


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The History of Michigan Wines

The History of Michigan Wines: 150 Years of Winemaking along the Great Lakes, by Sharon Kegerreis and Lorri Hathaway (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010) is a book that documents Michigan's dynamic 150-year wine history.

Savor the taste of wines inspired by the Great Lakes. Meet passionate winemakers like Joseph Sterling, who ignited Michigan’s first viable wine region in the 1800s along Lake Erie. Discover how the Detroit River was used for bootlegging during Prohibition, how the raid on red wine in the Upper Peninsula generated national headlines and how Michigan became the first to repeal. Learn about the wineries that boosted production to make Michigan a leading wine producer through the 1960s, when the changing marketplace caused a slump in production and sales. Since then, new grape varietals have spurred resurgence in the industry, garnering Michigan worldwide attention for its locally influenced wines. Discover Michigan’s vibrant wine history, which is vital to the second most agriculturally diverse state and top tourism region becoming a premier agritourism destination.

The book is set up chronologically, in 5 sections up to 2010. The appendix of Michigan wineries is a nice bonus, and it included a winery (in the area we normally frequent), that I hadn’t heard of before. Very thoroughly researched!

One of the best things about visiting wine country is the amazing history it always seems to have. Since Laima and I have recently spent so much time in Michigan, exploring the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, it was perfect timing to read this book, recognizing some of the wine growers who appear in the book. There is a wealth of information here, much of it interconnected. My only complaint is that the writing tends to jump around a bit, but only because the authors are trying to get so many details in, and it truly is a minor flaw.

The authors also take on a minor tangent in exploring Michigan’s new craft distilleries, 5 of which are based in vineyards. It’s an exciting and interesting addition to visiting those producers!

Hathaway and Kegerreis are native Michiganders who share a passion for living and playing along the Great Lakes and exploring wine and food destinations. Researching Michigan’s earliest wine pioneers for the State of Michigan ignited a passion for Michigan’s rich agricultural history and turned them into avid historians. They continue to be most intrigued with today’s hardworking winemakers and other agriculturalists who inspire us to share their stories.

The History Press has some other titles in their History of Wine series (Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina), and I will definitely be checking the titles out before visiting wineries in those states.

The authors can be found via the Delicious Michigan website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of The History Press. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday Tasting (On A Wednesday): 2011 Zafrika Pinotage

2011 Zafrika Pinotage
$4.99 (Purchased at Trader Joe's)

Aroma: Berries (raspberry?)
Texture: Medium-bodied
Taste: Consistently fruity, off-dry
Finish: Lingering but not long-lasting

Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (also known as Cinsault).

Around the neck is a label which states: Integrity ("has been certified by the WSB and the seal guarantees the trustworthiness of all information relating to origin, cultivar and vintage as stated on the label") and Sustainability ("development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs") Certified by the Wine and Spirit Board:

Production Area: WESTERN CAPE
Vintage: 2011
Application Number: 2011/12597
Code Serial Number: 6257 642344-655752
Wine & Spirit Board Certificate No.: CZ327
Sensorial Evaluation Date: 20110909
Sustainability Status: Certified

Very cool, and completely unexpected at a wine in this price range!


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prince Charles Wine Car

Back in 2008, Britain's Prince Charles began running one of his cars on a substance converted from white wine. The prince's Aston Martin - a 21st birthday gift from his mother Queen Elizabeth - was overhauled in a bid to make it more environmentally friendly. The Seychelles Blue DB6 MKII Volante, one of only 38 built, now runs on bioethanol - a substance extracted from local vineyards surplus wine - which costs £1.10 per litre and is 10 per cent more efficient than using petrol. The car only gets about 10 miles to the gallon, so while it’s not particularly environmentally friendly, at least it’s using a fuel that has been re-purposed. His son, Prince William, took his new bride Kate, for a spin around the grounds of Buckingham Palace after their wedding. The car is driven approximately 300 miles per year.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Saucy Mama Product Review

Headquartered in the one of the Top 10 True Western towns, Pendleton, Oregon, Barhyte Specialty Foods thrives as a small family company doing what they do best: creating some of the most delicious mustards, marinades, wing sauces, and other gourmet condiments and never settling for anything less than the best.

Barhyte has a large and loyal following throughout the U.S. and Canada. Customers love their unique flavors and the way they enhance foods without overpowering them. They know they can trust mom “Saucy Mama” to use the finest, freshest ingredients and leave out all those additives and fillers with names you can’t pronounce.

I had the opportunity to try out some of the Saucy Mama products lately, which was a lot of fun, because I love mustard and am pretty picky when it comes to salad dressings. Apart from the olives, which I tried only as martini garnishes, both the mustard and salad dressing paired well with a variety of wines, neither overpowering them nor being overpowered. Nicely balanced products.

Saucy Mama's® Apricot Ginger Mustard ($5.00)

The new Apricot Ginger mustard makes a beautiful accompaniment to chicken and pork, and adds spectacular flavor for a brie-en-croute glaze. Spread it on a sandwich or use as a dip for a warm pretzel. It has a delicious combination of sweet apricot and a kick of fresh ginger. Gluten Free.
  • This was a really delicious mustard - as someone who likes very simple mustard, it was neat to find out that adding an ingredient might not be so bad. That being said, it was a bit too evenly balanced between the sweetness of the apricot flavor and the resulting lack of mustard bite. If you like your mustard a bit spicier, this probably isn't for you. However, if most mustard have too much kick for you or you are interested in a less traditional mustard, this is a great option.

Saucy Mama® Garlic Stuffed Olives ($6.00)

Delicious in your martini or popped in your mouth! Saucy Mama's® imported, hand-stuffed olives are a treat from her to you. Gluten Free.
  • I personally am not a fan of olives, never have been and never will (but I love olive oil, ironic, huh?). However, I know that my wife Laima (the ever gorgeous writer of Women’s Endurance Gear fame) really likes them. I kind of like the added flavor they give martinis, so we decided to get some to try and have martinis, which we rarely do. Win-win. Here's what she thought:
    • "Can't think of a better way to taste test Saucy Mama's Garlic Stuffed Olives than in a dirty martini! They complete the drink beautifully. These olives are delicious and have a firm texture. The garlic pieces inside each olive add a nice crunch and flavor without being overpowering. Kovas does not like olives, so when he was finished drinking his martini - I got double the olives - bummer for him, bonus for me (my favorite part of the drink!). The Saucy Mama Garlic Stuffed Olives are great for martinis or just popping in your mouth!"

Saucy Mama's® Sesame Ginger Dressing ($6.00)

Saucy Mama® brings you a taste of the east, perfect for a chicken salad.

Not having eaten meat in a while, can't testify to its appropriateness on chicken salad, but I will say that this is my new favorite dressing, especially with kale, which seems to benefit the most from its pan-Asian flavor. That flavor is perfectly balanced, without going overboard towards a one-dimensional result. This dressing really changed dependent on what it was poured over (including pasta), which is a nice bonus.

Saucy Mama is a highly recommended company for clean, natural products - they can be liked on Facebook and purchased at


Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of This Just In PR & Marketing. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

Veterans Day is an occasion to celebrate and applaud the selfless sacrifice of our soldiers and their families. As you are enjoying today with your friends and family, I hope that you will take a moment to remember the significance of the day. Veterans Day is a time for reflection and an opportunity to give thanks to those who risk their lives so that we can live in a safe and free nation. Take the time to thank a veteran or the family member of a veteran for their sacrifice.

Raise a glass and a cheer for our Veterans!

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Try It Thursday: Limoncello

I like to find projects that let me try new things, involve an initial burst of enthusiasm and work, and are then followed by some amount of laxness. I might have found the perfect project in limoncello, which gets better the longer it steeps. I'm also thinking the lemon taste will be a nice reminder of warmer days when we are in the middle of another endless winter.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. Traditionally, it is made from Sorrento lemon peel, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello.

7-8 organic lemons (if using another type of citrus, scale down accordingly)
1 750 ml bottle grain alcohol (80 proof or higher)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
  1. First, thoroughly wash and scrub any residue and waxes from your citrus.
  2. Peel the lemons. You’ll want to peel long strips along the length of the lemon, pulling off little to no white pith. If you do peel any pith, scrape it off gently with a paring knife.
  3. Add the lemon peel to a large glass vessel. Pour in the vodka or other grain alcohol, seal tightly, and let sit for at least one week, preferably longer! (Ideally, give it one to two months.)
  4. After you’ve let your limoncello cure for your preferred length of time, prepare the simple syrup. I’ve gone very conservative with the sugar, although many recipes call for much more. Adjust the level of sugar according to taste.
  5. To make the simple syrup, simmer the water and the sugar over a low heat just long enough to dissolve the sugar. Do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. When cool, add the simple syrup to the limoncello, tasting as you go. Allow it to rest for another 10-14 days.
  6. Finally, strain the lemon rinds and sediment using cheesecloth or a coffee filter.  
I'll let you know how it goes, in a couple of months!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Wine Century Club

I first saw the Wine Century Club mentioned over at Swirl, Sip, Snark, noticed it at Dr. Vino’s, then Wine Peeps, and finally decided to look into it.

Founded in 2005 by Deborah and Steve De Long , The Wine Century Club is for all adventurous wine lovers. If you've tasted at least 100 different grape varieties, you're qualified to become a member. If you haven't tried 100 different grape varieties, but are interested in the concept, you're welcome to all of the events. By working on this project, one is promoting the awareness of uncommon wine grape varieties.


The common grape varieties are typically considered the "big six": Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Does that mean Chenin Blanc, Sangiovese and Syrah are considered exotic? No, but you get the idea.

Members of the Club are People who enjoy wine, are wine adventurers, as well as consumers and promoters of uncommon wine grape varieties. They are not Wine Snobs, or advocates of single varietal wines (although many like single varietal wines, they are not favored over wines blended from several different grape varieties - there are simply too many great blends!), or anti-Chardonnay, nor anti-Merlot (Pass the Petrus, please!). Sounds like a good group of folks.

Yesterday Laima and I drank a Montepulciano-based wine from Italy, making it the 33rd varietal grape I’ve tasted since I started the list (keep track on the Wine Century Club Page tab above). Only a month and a half and I’m a 1/3rd of the way there! It has been so much fun searching out different grapes and made us purchase wines we never would have considered before. I recommend this project to everyone.


What’s the most unusual grape variety you’ve tried?

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Vintner's Apprentice Book Review

The Vintner’s Apprentice (Beverly, MA: Quarry Books, 2011), by Eric Miller, is “(a)n insider’s guide to the art and craft of wine making, taught by the masters.”

Eric Miller is the owner and winemaker at Chaddsford Winery  in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. A lifelong oenophile, Miller learned his craft in France’s prestigious Burgundy region and apprenticed at his family’s Hudson Valley winery before hand-selecting his own terroir in southeastern Pennsylvania, where he founded Chaddsford Winery in 1982. His wines have been called “enchanting” and “perfect” by Gourmet, and have been featured in Food & Wine, the New York Times, and Philadelphia magazine. Eric has also been a leader in the development of premium viticulture in his home region, both as a board member of the Pennsylvania Commodities Council and past president and longtime board member of the Pennsylvania Association of Winegrowers.

This book promises:
  • Insight into every step of the grape’s journey to your glass, from planting to fermenting to bottling—and beyond!
  • Twelve wine experts share their old-world, classic skills with you through extensive interviews.
With winegrowing becoming more prevalent in the U.S. (dare I say hip?), this is a great introductory book that gives one advice on selecting a site, planting a vineyard, harvesting and crushing the grapes, creating blends, and much more. The masters that Miller interviews are wide-ranging and interesting characters in their own right, bringing many unique perspectives to the book.

This, visually, is a gorgeous book and, even though it’s a paperback, it has the feel of a coffee table book. Apart from the beautiful photos, it has a wealth of knowledge suitable to inform the well-read connoisseur, the dilettante, all the way to the would-be home winemaker. This is must-have addition for your wine book library.


Monday, November 7, 2011

1966 Clos Fourtet

It is my good fortune that my father-in-law once collected Bordeaux wines, mostly in the later 60s and early 70s. Last week my wife went over to visit and they pulled out some older bottles, tasting a 1970 Chateau Carbonnieux (Cru Classé de Graves A.O.C. Appellation Pessac-Léognan). Before leaving, she suggested that he give me a bottle from my birth year, and he handed over a 1966 Clos Fourtet. Yup, he is a generous man!

Clos Fourtet, previously Château Clos Fourtet and archaichally Camfourtet, is a Bordeaux wine from the appellation Saint-Émilion, ranked Premier grand cru classé B in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine. The Clos Fourtet winery is located in the Right Bank of France’s Bordeaux wine region in the commune of Saint-Émilion, in the department Gironde. The vineyard area extends to 19 hectares, with the grape varieties split between 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. 5,000 cases of the Grand vin Clos Fourtet are produced annually, while 2,500 cases of the second wine Closerie de Fourtet are usually produced.

In 1955 the wines of Saint-Émilion in the wine-growing region of Bordeaux were classified. Unlike the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 covering wines from the Medoc and Graves regions, the Saint-Émilion list is updated every 10 years or so. Following the initial classification, the list was updated in 1969, 1986, 1996 and most recently in 2006. However the 2006 classification was declared invalid following a series of legal actions, and the 1996 version of the classification has been reinstated for the vintages from 2006 to 2009.

It sounds like, dependent on individual bottles, this wine has aged decently and still has some fruit left. Can’t wait to try it, just need to figure out the appropriate occasion.

What kind of occasion would prompt you
to open a 45 year old wine?


Friday, November 4, 2011

Wine Jobs Board at Dr. Vino

Who amongst us hasn't daydreamed of a job in the wine industry? Maybe you have and you don't know where to start. Have no fear - Dr. Vino has what you need, a wine jobs board! Perhaps you want to be a wine rep in the Windy City, or a full-time wine sales associate in NY, or a PR Director for a Napa winery. All those jobs and more were available when I checked out the job board. Quality postings.

I would love to be a winegrower, but that's not the type of job you see on a job board necessarily. What's your dream wine job?

Have a great weekend all!!!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ellen Crosby's Wine Country Mysteries

It's very appropriate that I got to try Horton Vineyards' Norton wine this week, as this murder mystery series is set in the wine country of Virginia. Set on the fictional (?) Montgomery Estate Vineyard, the books revolve around a series of repeating characters, primarily Lucie Montgomery, proprietress, and her winemaker, Quinn Santori.

Each book is an amalgamation of the murder mystery, the travails of raising grapes and making wine, food and celebrations, history of the region, and some minor bodice-ripping romance. All in all great fun.

As is often the case in books from a series, there are certain explanatory facts that are repeated in each book, which gives them both a similarity and a feeling of being the same book over and over. Apart from that minor quibble, the books are a great way to while away time with a glass of wine.

Ellen Crosby is a former freelance reporter for The Washington Post and was the Moscow correspondent for ABC Radio News. She is the author of The Viognier Vendetta, The Riesling Retribution, The Bordeaux Betrayal, The Chardonnay Charade, and The Merlot Murders, among others. Crosby lives in Virginia with her family. More info available at her personal website, via Facebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Horton's Norton

Virginia wines are made up of myriad varietal grapes: Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Viognier, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton (the oldest native North American varietal), Petit Verdot and Chambourcin.

Since I'm in DC on business for a few days, I decided to take the opportunity to taste a Virginia wine. I opted for a Horton Vineyards 2009 Norton, happily a relatively inexpensive option. As you can see from the photo, it is nearly black in color, with some great fruitiness, though extremely smooth. According to Horton, the wine has "intensely fruity aroma of plums and tart cherries. Ageing in oak has given this wine a long, flavorful, spicy finish.  A wine for game, grilled sausages, and spicy ethnic foods. The vision of Horton Vineyards is to grow grapes ideally suited to the climate of the Old Dominion.  This vision has led to the planting of French Rhone, Bordeaux and native Virginia grapes.  Horton Vineyards is proud to re-introduce the famous Norton wine, the original Virginia Claret.  Norton is a native Virginia grape that produced the internationally prize winning clarets of the Monticello Wine Company of Charlottesville in the late 1800's." As a resident of the Midwest, I've heard much about the Norton grape, which was a standout for Missouri wines before Prohibition decimated the wine industry here in the States. Really happy I finally got to try it.
The Norton was an addition to my Wine Century Club, which I also added to by drinking an Argentinian wine made from the Torrontés grape. I'm up to 30 varietal grapes, almost a 1/3rd of the way!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Have a Vegan Wine - It's World Vegan Day!

Wine is clarified, or cleared, after fermentation. Some of the ingredients used include: 
  • edible gelatins (made from bones)
  • isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)
  • casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins)
  • animal albumin (egg albumin and dried blood powder)
None of these products remain in the wine, to my knowledge, so, while the product was produced in a non-vegan way, the actual liquid in the glasss is okay for vegans. However, there are now many wineries making wine in the veagn manner, so it's not overrly difficult to find some if you so desire.

World Vegan Day is an annual event celebrated on 1 November, by vegans around the world. The Day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President and Chair of The Vegan Society UK. World Vegan Day marks the start of World Vegan Month every year, commemorating the coining of the term, 'vegan' and the founding of The Vegan Society in November 1944.

Find out how other people are celebrating through The Vegan Society Facebook page.

I'm not 100% vegan, though I'd like to be. Even if you’re not a vegan nor plan to become one, consider eating at least one meal this week without animal products. Or find and buy a vegan wine to enjoy!