Trick or treat!
I don’t know about you but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays — and I know I am not alone.
In fact, almost 200 million people are expected to celebrate Halloween in 2017 and Halloween retail spending is projected to be a record breaking $9.1 billion, nearly $90 each! (Source).
While much of this spending is on outfits to wear to parties and for trick or treating, for readers of this blog, WINE might be a popular expenditure!
Here are some suggestions for your wine purchases: three from Chile at around $10, and two from Napa at around $35 and $80. Plus ideas for your Halloween menus!
This year, we decided to focus on a light, easy, and vegetarian meal that can accommodate a large or small gathering on the move or hanging out.
- Cheese plate
- Squash soup
with sprouted pumpkin seed butter garnish
- Caprese salad
on arugula with fresh burrata and heirloom tomatoes from Uncle Tim
drizzled with balsamic, olive oil and sprouted pumpkin seed butter
- Fall Ravioli (pumpkin, butternut squash, corn and burrata)
with brown butter sage cream sauce
- Pumpkin seed sourdough bread
Sue’s Sage Butter Sauce on Seasonal Pasta:
Melt half cube of butter and a bit of minced fresh sage and fresh ground nutmeg. Salute. Add about a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream, a pinch of salt and pepper, and pour over fresh boiled pasta. We chose a variety of stuffed pastas from Trader Joes. So easy, so seasonal, and so yummy!
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Chardonnay – Reserva – Chile
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Rose – Chile
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Cabernet Sauvignon – Chile 2013 – Napa Valley Red Wine Blend- Flora Springs, Napa Valley
2014 – Skull Ring – Red Wine Blend Napa Valley, CA
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Chardonnay – Reserva – Chile – 13.5% alcohol SRP $10
A bit too oakey off the bat for either of our preferences, however this wine does pair nicely to foods that desire a buttery chardonnay.
Color: Pretty golden, what you want the color of chardonnay to be.
Nose: Fruit, honey, and oak. This is an oaky chardonnay; if you are a fan of an oaky California kind of Chardonnay, then this is the wine for you.
Palate: Oak and vanilla, a bit of pineapple which comes out more with some time in the glass. Better with food than alone to our taste, the oak is toned down by the food and lets the fruit shine through.
This chardonnay loves triple cream brie a lot! The nuts in our bread brings out the toast of the oak, like a brioche. It would go well with a nice buttery, creamy sauced seafood dish. There is a bit of complexity, but Sue felt she’d get bored quickly of this wine, Chardonnay is not her favorite grape. Our friend Pineapple Helen would love this wine. I enjoyed it with a few different foods over the following few days and it went well with richer foods.
This wine loves creamy cheeses, Camembert or a triple cream with a washed rind and a bit of funk totally changes the flavor profile of this wine and made it so much more intriguing that we wanted to go back for more after pairing it with our Brebirousse Dargental Fromi which brings out a caramel characteristic in the wine. The wine went extremely well with our squash soup, and our barrata salad really brings out a golden delicious or gala apple fruitiness to the wine. This wine also went beautifully with our ravioli tonight. It loves the rich creaminess of the sauce.
Flexible food loving wine, this would be great for any Halloween party.
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Rose – 13% alcohol SRP $10
We love this Rose which we wrote about this summer. It’s a super nice party wine with a great price point. Who does not love a rose these days? and this is a good one. Read more about the Devil’s Rose here.
2016 – Casillero del Diablo – Cabernet Sauvignon SRP $10
We have found after tasting a number of these wines over the years that Casillero del Diablo is a very consistent producer. If you like these wines, you will most probably be please vintage to vintage– even if I thought this one had a bit too much heat and vegetal characteristics.
Color: Pretty, ruby red.
Nose: Right off the bat, I smelled bell pepper on this wine, plus mint, and much more of this herbaciousness after it has just been poured. It does mellow after having been in the glass for a while.
Palate: Bell pepper, jalapeño jelly, and cherry cola, eucalyptus, nice minerality and acidity very similar to a cab franc. Pairing with herbed cheese and sundried tomato crostini brings down the herbaceous qualities, brings out some sage. Okay with mimolette cheese. We both really liked this wine with our squash soup. With our caprese salad, the salad brings out the herbal characteristics in the wine and the basil in the salad is enhanced, and there is a salinity that is not present in the burrata. For me, it brought out more of the herbal qualities in the wine that I did not like. For Sue those are the exact qualities in the wine that she loves. Sue really liked the cinnamon spices in the honey roasted squash ravioli with this wine. The sweet spiciness of the meal hit it off nicely.
2013 – Napa Valley Red Wine – Flora Springs – 14.5% $36 — 40 cases
52% Cabernet Sauvignon; 20% Merlot, 17% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot; 3% Cabernet Franc
Flora Springs is a Ghost Winery — and they celebrate that heritage proudly! More about Flora Springs here. More about California Ghost wineries here.
Use a nice Bordeaux wine glass, please, to get so much more nuance and pleasure out of this wine.
Color: Rich blood red, little coral around the ring.
Nose: Mint, eucalyptus, peppery, blue fruit. The nose is super inviting and engaging, dusty roses and carnation for the florals with a bit of lavender. With the nicer wine glass, the nose is so much more complex, it tones down the herbal qualities, while still present, they are much more balanced.
Palate: This wine is full of berries, fruit and oak on the front of the palate, with lingering minerals. This is a very fruit forward wine on the palate. The oak should mellow with aging. We would like to try this wine in another couple of years.
A beautiful triple cream brie really mellows out the oak on the front part of the palate moving it to the back which leads to a nice lingering finish. Not the best pairing with our soup which surprised us. It may have been our soup base; maybe if this was with a coconut milk and curry. It just did not go well with the savory soup that we had. We were also surprised at how well it went with our caprese salad: Sue loved the way that the basil works with the Merlot in this wine. I felt that it was the umami of the tomato and the richness of the cheese that really set this wine and salad pairing off nicely. This is the type of salad to have with a red wine, and this wine works very well here. Low acidity tomato, super creamy cheese, wonderful basil that plays off the herbaciousness of the wine.
I was also surprised that this wine didn’t pair that well with the ravioli. But as it was so good with the sundries tomato we added some to the soup and VOILA! The sundried tomato has umami, and the earthy, brightness of the tomatoes, the roasted tomatoes are more closely compared to a rich meat product. We felt that mushrooms would have and earthy richness that would go fabulously with this meal.
We can totally see serving this wine for a Halloween gathering with some gourmet meatballs or sausages; you should be able to go many different directions with this wine. It’s so fantastic with sundries tomatoes and roasted garlic leading us to believe that this would be a fantastic pasta wine. This is a very versatile food friendly wine.
As you can tell, Flora Springs really gets into the spirit of Halloween. Check out this six-pack that features two bottles each of Haunted Highway 29, Headless Horseman, and Dead Man’s Vineyard Party. If I bought a six pack of this wine. I would totally enjoy one or two for this year’s party and then lay down the rest bringing out a bottle or two for the next successive years to see how they have improved. The wine was aged for months in new and seasoned oak of 80% French, and 20% American oak so you could lay them down until 2014.
What a fun wine for an up scale Halloween Party. Add this pleaser to any Halloween party bar.
A Message from John Komes, Proprietor, Flora Springs, 10.18.17:
First, thank you to all of you who reached out to us in the past week and to everyone for keeping Napa Valley in your thoughts and prayers during these terrible fires. And thank you to the firefighters and first responders who are still fighting so bravely and selflessly to keep our communities intact.
Komes reports that no one at Flora Springs lost their home and that the winery — including the Ghost Winery–, benchland and valley floor vineyards are fine, and most of the grapes were harvested before the fires began.
To support relief efforts in Napa Valley, visit to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. There is a great need for gift cards and cash so that the displaced can purchase what they need.
2014 – Skull Ring – Red Wine Napa Valley – 14.5% – $80
67% Syrah; 33% Petit Verdot; only 4 barrels made!
Jonathan Nathaniel wines are not your typical fruit forward Napa beverages. A personal project of John Komes and his son, Nat, Jonathan Nathaniel allows them to make smaller, artisanal, lots of wine that reflect their passion.
Skull Ring is an impressive, distinctive wine in an impressive bottle in a distinctiv label. With a huge punt and massive shoulders, most people will choose to use two hands to pour! This is still a young wine, and if you’re going to spend $80 on a bottle of wine it should be a bit of an investment. Lay this baby down for a bit.
The Valdemort of wines….
The label on this wine is very dark, maybe something you would have nightmares about.
Color: Deep, rich, dense. Super dense. Dark as night!
Nose: Beautifully balanced complex and intriguing nose. Sniffing makes you ask the question: What is in this wine?
Palate: BIG yet a smooth drinking wine. There is a lot of acidity and tannins in the front of the palate. Oak is present. Overall intense, complex, fascinating, meaty, hefty. Dried herbs, cocoa, sandalwood. Dark fruit. dense mouthfeel, plenty of structure. Satisfying.
Great with our sundried tomato and olive oil but did not pair so well with our soup. We loved the soup before the wine but having the wine after tasting the soup was disappointing. This wine did not work as well as anticipated with the salad. The salad did not enhance the wine and the wine did not do anything for the salad. Definitely not our favorite pairing of the evening. While we wanted to feature vegetarian food, this is more of a big meat wine– and I almost pulled out a filet mignon! It was alright with our ravioli, but possibly a stuffed portobello mushroom may have been a better vegetarian choice. Sue liked this wine with our ravioli; the spice and cream of the ravioli went nicely with the fruit and oak of the wine. The spices in the ravioli, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger etc… went beautifully with the spice (syrah) in the wine.
Cold soak for inky color and flavor, fermented in stainless steel, with the Syrah macerating for a few extra days, then French and American oak barrels for 20 months. Racked several times, then bottled without fining.