Monthly Archives: August 2012

Serving Up National Cabernet Sauvignon Day With 2010 MollyDooker Maitre d’

Today has been a day of juggling…schedules, activities, and events. Wine selection for the day was no less of a balancing act. I woke up today to see on the calendar that it was National Cabernet Sauvignon Day. A day to celebrate in my book as I LOVE the ‘bad boy’ of the wine world. However, I also woke to a weather report discussing 95+ degree weather and the need to prepare for a flurry of grilling and bar-b-q over the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. The art of finding a Cabernet Sauvignon that was true to its name, but would not be too heavy during the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ and would pair nicely with the savory goodness of smoked meats and picnic treats. I also wanted to make sure it was a value…most great Cabernet Sauvignons require you to sell your first born to enjoy them.

Fortunately, I found a solution from an unlikely source….Australia.

Mollydooker Vineyards is one of my favorites, producing some of the most incredible Shiraz offerings and red blends you can imagine. Many come with a sizable price tag (albeit worth the price), but they offer a Cabernet Sauvignon that I think anyone and everyone could enjoy.

The 2010 Maitre d’ Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t your typical muscly, bold Napa-styled Cab. It’s more like a Prom King…charming, personable, easily approachable, and one that most people will enjoy. Deep purple in the glass, the nose is full of big red berries, cassis, cherry, spice, and maybe even slightly like smoked meat. It’s the taste that’s going to blow you away…quite literally. It is like an explosion of fruit the second it hits your tastebuds, but then it takes you on a ride with anise, black pepper, toasty oak vanilla, and a finish…a wonderfully long finish with dark chocolate and espresso….two of my favorite things. There are enough acids in it to cut through the cheeseburgers I paired it up with, and nice, delicate tannins to give it a great mouth feel without being too heavy for the late summer heat.

Those that love a big Cab will be able to enjoy having an old friend during a time you normally wouldn’t drink a big red. Those that like something lighter will love the approachable fruit. Bar-b-q lovers will rejoice because this one will pair with ribs, burnt ends, and pulled pork just as easily as a Zinfandel, and value hunters will celebrate knowing this one won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. This one is priced just under $30. Compared to paying $80 or more for a lot of other killer Cabs, this is a steal and easy to enjoy on a regular basis.

If only National Cabernet Day could come on a regular basis as well. Perhaps this wine could be a reason to celebrate it more often.



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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Forget the Gold! Go For the Red…AND the White: Italian Nebbiolo d’Alba and Soave

I promised myself I would review wines from the countries that were cleaning up on the gold medals each day. I have come to the conclusion that I would need to be a wino of Olympic proportions to consume that much wine on a daily basis, but I am at least going to make an attempt to give you a taste of some of the top winners as we go along.

Today’s selections come from Italy, who currently sits in the number 10 position for gold medals won. They have 7 golds and 20 overall, which I feel is nothing to sneeze at. Their wines are equally exceptional.

The first winner to take the platform today is a powerhouse red variety coming out of Northwestern Italy in the Piedmont is the 2009 San Silvestro Brumo Nebbiolo d’Alba.

The Nebbiolo grape is used for some of Italy’s most expensive and luxurious wines: Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines are the giants of red, typically being very tannic and bold. Typically you need to age them for quite some time before they’re ready to drink. They are definitely not for the timid at heart.

This wine, however, is what I would call a fabulous ‘starter Nebbiolo.’ It is softer, and full of ripe fruit…much more of an approachable wine because they only aged it in oak barrels for 12 months.

The San Silvestro Brumo is a medium-bodied red, full of strawberry, red licorice, and vanilla on the nose. You can expect those same flavors to shine through when you take a sip, along with black pepper and maybe even a hint of green olive, with moderate tannins. The tannins are what make you feel like you’ve got velvet coating your tongue, if you’re new to the wine drinking scene. This wine would be perfect with grilled meats or game, mushroom dishes, and what I like to refer to as ‘stinky’ cheeses. I actually paired it up with green olives and marinated bleu cheese. It worked perfectly.

The other thing that makes this wine more approachable is the price. Instead of paying $80 or more for a good Barolo or Barbaresco, the 2009 San Silvestro Nebbiolo d’Alba runs right around $13. Get one for the weekend, and one to store, since it will age another 3-5 years.

For the white wine lovers, I have an equally wonderful winner out of the Northeastern region of Veneto. You are missing out if you don’t try the 2010 Terre di Terrossa Soave. The name of it alone makes me like it better…’swah.vay’…like some exotic foreign lover…and quite frankly, I DO love it.

The Soave is made from the Garganega grape, a native of Veneto. If you ever go to Venice, you won’t find so much Pinot Grigio even though they grow it out the ears (they typically export it to us!), you will instead find the locals sipping Soave. It’s typically a bit richer in flavor and more aromatic on the nose than a Pinot Grigio, but it’s not cloying. It still is quite refreshing and wonderful for summer sipping.

The 2010 Terre di Terrossa Soave is a beautiful straw colored wine with a little more mouth feel than you might expect. Lovely aromas of lemon curd, sugar cookies, and a hint of spice escape from the glass. Delicious with flavors of melon, lemon, a touch of white pepper, and a certain minerality that keeps this wonderfully refreshing. I would pair this hands down with sushi, crab cakes, or a shrimp fettucine. This is a killer white…one I’ll be drinking much more of…especially when it’s priced around $13 as well!

Value wines with luxury taste…that makes them of ‘Olympic’ quality in my books.

Go for the gold this weekend and give them a try yourself.



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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A U.S. Gold Medal Varietal: Zinfandel

With Olympic fever in full swing, I decided I should dedicate my reviews to medal winning countries. Until I can get my hands on a Chinese wine (and I do believe I have found my contact for that one!), I’m going to have to sort through the other medal winning countries and present you with their winning wines and varietals.

Today’s ‘presentation’ goes to the United States and what is considered to be the country’s truly “American” varietal (even though it looks like it has it’s roots in Croatia). Allow me to introduce you to the United States ‘gold standard’ varietal-Zinfandel.

Zinfandel wears more hats than any other grape I’ve come across. It’s many styles include zingy, ripe berry-fruit sensations in red; bold, tannic, spicy devils, vin nouveau (young, light bodied reds), and tart roses. I have seen soft, simple blushes (better known as ‘white’ zinfandel), Zins turned into sparkling wines, plus those that are turned into dessert and fortified wines (I have a bottle of Montefino Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port chilling as we speak~YUM!). No matter how picky the person may be, there’s sure to be a Zinfandel style to please.

Although they say ‘Cabernet is King’ in California, you could easily say that Zinfandel is the emperor, as there are nearly as many acres of Zinfandel planted as Cabernet Sauvignon. Or maybe it should get a Congeniality award, since it is as comfortable at a backyard bbq as it is in a fine dining establishment with a steak. This varietal loves everything!

Some of the most notable areas growing Zinfandel styles (besides just the basic California state appellation are Amador County, Paso Robles, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley.

Which Zinfandel am I sipping on this evening? I pulled a DeLoach 2009 Heritage Reserve Zinfandel from California. It’s an easy sip…trust me! Very fruit forward with rich, ripe berries and cherries on the tongue, a touch of cola flavor, a hint of vanilla and spice, pretty garnet color in the glass. Total non-offender, this one! Good balance makes it perfect with food or just for sipping alone. I actually paired it up with my Baked Ziti since I didn’t want to decant an Italian Barolo…I wanted to eat, dammit! Cut through the cheese, italian sausage, and worked well with the marinara.

What makes this one even better is the price: right around $10. This is an awesome everyday wine that you can break out for company and know you’re going to get smiles from the crowd…call it the ‘Gabby Douglas’ of Zinfandel…an all-around winner!

Other favorite Zins of mine you might enjoy are Seghesio (a variety of choices from $20-45), 7 Deadly Zins ($17), Renwood Vineyards of the Sierra Foothills ($20-38), Rancho Zabaco of Sonoma ($13-23, OR you could get their ‘little brother’ Dancing Bull Zinfandel with a California designation for under $10), Cline ‘Ancient Vines’ ( $15, although you can find any of their Zins between $11 and $22), and Sledgehammer out of the North Coast of California ($15…see my YouTube review of the 2008 vintage at–C50QK2w…DON’T FORGET TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PAGE SO YOU DON’T MISS ANY REVIEWS!…okay, shameless plug is now over).

Honestly, there are so many wonderful Zinfandel choices from so many areas of California, that you could spend every day of the Olympics sipping a new choice and you wouldn’t run out.

Pick up a bottle tonight and find out what makes this varietal such a winner…I know I’ll be doing more of the same.




Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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