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“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Global Zinfandel Day with 2009 OZV

Today is November 19th…unless it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or you’ve suddenly discovered you are the long lost love child of Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey and you’re inheriting EVERYTHING, you might not find the date terribly memorable nor exciting. For me, it was a day of typical gray hair causing activities focused around work, errands, pets, kids, and preparing for the entire family to convene on my household for the holiday. Stressful, exhausting…not normally a cause for celebration…

…until I realized it was Global Zinfandel Day.

YES! Zinfandel is perhaps my FAVORITE varietal of all time (shhh…don’t tell the other children…I hate to play favorites with the ‘kids’). I’m not talking about the pretty little pink version of WHITE Zinfandel (although if you like it, knock yourselves out…I’m not going to discriminate…after all, it’s still Zin), but I’m talking about the luscious, red, jammy, ‘lover in a glass’ Zinfandels.

How to describe Zinfandel? Hmmm…let’s compare varietals to a rock band. Cabernet Sauvignon is your big and bold lead singer. Merlot would be the sensual lead guitar player. Malbec would be the rock solid base player. Pinot Noir, the moody, sensitive keyboardist. And the drummer? The sexy, wild, showman that is personality plus, complicated in its rhythms, but able to hold everything together? THAT my friends is ZINFANDEL.

There are as many different styles of Zinfandel as there are drummers, but all have the wonderful red berry fruit that makes it perfect for barbecues during the summer, the perfect wine to sip by the fire pit in the fall, and a surprisingly good wine to serve with cranberries and smoked turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner.

The wine I’m drinking this evening is the perfect example of why you should celebrate Zinfandel. I’ve selected the 2009 OZV Zinfandel out of Lodi, California. Lodi has some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in all of California, and this wine boasts fruit from 50-100 year vines, making the flavors that much more concentrated and intense. Raspberry, red licorice, and milk chocolate on the nose (yeah…it’s like rich candy heaven). Raspberry, blackberry, milk chocolate, and a slight hint of pepper on the finish as you sip…and sip…and sip. The tannins are light, the mouth feel doesn’t feel like a wool sweater on your tongue…it is VERY approachable. If you are looking for a red wine to help you make the transition from whites, this would be a perfect wine to try.

This wine would be excellent with smoked meats of all type, tomato based pastas (heck yeah, cousin LeAnn…this would work with your ‘Christmas Spaghetti’), even grilled tuna!

Zinfandel is the perfect choice for every occasion, and OZV from Oak Ridge Wineries is the perfect choice, especially when you can find it on average around $13.

So grab yourself a bottle…or a case…and celebrate November 19th like a rock star!

Cheers!

~CC

 

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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.

Cheers!

~CC

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Around the Wine World For Under $20: Australia’s Sweetheart of a Tawny

I admit it, I’ve been in a rather foul mood as of late. Too much studying, packing, working, and cleaning makes your Corked Cowgirl more of a surly She-Devil. Just a few days before I take a big wine exam and I’m stressing. So what do the stressed do to soothe their frazzled nerves and placate their out of control emotions?

They turn to dessert!

And that is EXACTLY what I’ve done this evening with a sweetheart of a dessert wine from down under. I found a HECK of a deal on a rather unorthodox Tawny port-styled wine from Rutherglen in Victoria, which is one of the southernmost areas of Australia. I figured, “Under $17 for a Tawny? I spend more than that when I take the kids to Dairy Queen. Momma needs her sweetness!” So, I picked it up and decided to pour.

Tonight’s value is RL Buller’s Victoria Tawny, a blend of Carina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Shiraz, made into a fortified wine with a whopping 18% alcohol (yes my friends, I took no chances tonight with my mood…I plan on knocking out the nasties with this one).

In the glass, it’s a bright garnet color with a few orange tints to it. It certainly LOOKS like happiness in the glass to me. But my temperament cannot be placated with mere happy appearances. Nice smell to it as well…cherry, raspberry, and hints of what smells like…Grandma’s gingersnap cookies! Also smells like toffee. Okay, this is starting to get good. I could sniff this one all day. Makes me imagine Gram and Willy Wonka concocting the stuff of my childhood dreams right there in her kitchen.

I know, I know…what does it taste like?

Sweet, delicious goodness! Not what I would expect out of a TRADITIONAL Port, but then again, this isn’t a traditional Port. This has the bright cherry flavors, along with strawberry flavors. It still pulls off some of the tastes you’d expect out of a Tawny…toffee, maybe some fig on the finish. It’s berries and bread pudding all in one. You could pair it up with dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, fresh berries, and mild cheeses…the usual fare. OR…you could be daring and pair it up with pecan pie (which would be incredible together).

Me personally? I went off the deep end and decided to try it with my Kemp’s Blackberry Chocolate Ripple ice cream.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to PURE BLISS! It matches PERFECTLY. Forget Calgon bubble bath, let the decadent flavors take you away in the most seductive dance your tongue will ever partake in.

Yes, you CAN buy happiness. It comes in a bottle of RL Buller Victoria Tawny…and you can get it for under $20.

What are you waiting for? Run to your happiness!

…I’m going to saunter off to the freezer to get seconds and pour another glass.

~CC

 
 

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Around the Wine World for $20 and Under: Welcome to Australia, Pt. 2

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the wonderful world of Australian wine with some incredible white wines that are a STEAL when you consider the quality. St. Hallett Winery in the Barossa Valley has some of the most delicious and versatile whites I’ve tried at a value that won’t put a whooping on your wallet.

Their reds are every bit as amazing. Valentine’s Day will come every single time you pour one of these wonderful wines…I guarantee, ‘liquid love.’

The first red on the list is the ‘Gamekeeper’s Reserve’. As senior winemaker Stewart Blackwell informed me, ‘if you’re going to have a Poacher (wonderful white blend), then you NEED to have a gamekeeper.’ And trust me, you NEED this red on hand ALWAYS.

This is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and a splash of Touriga Nacional, which is a traditional Portuguese variety. A color I like to refer to as ‘Lover Red’ splashes into the glass on the pour, with a slightly smoky, slightly cherry, and definitely rosy perfume on the nose. If you’re a fan of French wines, let me just say, this one is ‘Cote du Rhone on speed!’

Mouthwatering, juicy, strawberries and raspberries seduce the tongue with just a slight smoky taste on the finish. This one is a light one with very few tannins, so you don’t have to worry about that ‘sweater on the tongue’ feeling. Pinot Noir lovers will want to hug this sweetheart of a wine, and those that are shy about trying red wines will want to make this one their first. You could even chill this one like a rose and drink it during the summer months. Pair it up with a good bacon cheeseburger, roasted chicken, or even a steak. This is truly an every day wine! At $12.00, you’ll most DEFINITELY want to drink it every day!

Next on the list is the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz, made from 100% Shiraz grapes. This one sort of took me by surprise. Deep, inky, red color was pretty, but I took a whiff, and the only thing I could think of was that it smelled like a West Texas dust storm. There was a little hint of cocoa, but that dusty smell was a powerhouse. I was hesitant to take that sip, but when I did, GOOD GOD THAT’S GOT AWESOME FRUIT! I didn’t see it coming. It has the most amazing cherry, plum, and raspberry flavor with ribbons of smooth vanilla dancing in your mouth. This wine is like your Grandma’s homemade berry pie in liquid form. This may very well be my new favorite BBQ wine. The two together are most definitely soul mates. This wine could be paired with most anything, but I’m telling you right now, this is the wine to go to for burnt ends and short ribs. At $15.00, I’m going to be doing barbecuing a WHOLE lot more.

Finally, I jumped into the St Hallett Faith Shiraz, another wine made of 100% Shiraz grapes, but a whole different personality than the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz. Referred to by Stewart as a ‘young’ Shiraz (from 50 year old vines), it looks like a jewel in the glass with its purplish-garnet color.

I almost couldn’t take my nose out of the glass, it smelled like heaven. The most intoxicating aromas of cocoa and raspberry were almost hypnotic…yes, it’s THAT good…and the taste lives up to the reviews from your nose, with the most delicious cocoa streak running over a sea of raspberry and a cherry slide into the finish.

This wine would be perfect with pizza or pasta….in fact it would be GREAT on spaghetti night, but I say grab your favorite chocolate and indulge yourself. It’s okay, at $15.00 you can definitely pamper yourself.

Again, a big thank you to Stewart Blackwell for the delightful conversation and the most delicious introduction to the wines of St Hallett. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more…and at this value, you’ll be enjoying them for a long time to come as well.

Cheers!

CC

 

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