Get Your Calendars Out: Central and SoCal Highlights Winter, Spring 2019

While I’m cozy on the couch with cognac listening to the cascades of rain come and go, I know soon it will be time to get out and about for more adventures in wine, food, and travel. After all, I am the Wine Predator and I do love to prowl!

Here are a few events that I have on my calendar — and why.

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Picpoul Goes Southern Style with Shrimp and Grits

 

Not too familiar with Picpoul? We’re not either but we’re learning!

After two outings in two months with this zesty, racy grape, we’re fast fans of this super acidic grape that is one of the thirteen allowed blending grapes in the Rhone’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Picpoul is also grown south of the Rhone in the Languedoc region, where it is one of the oldest domestic grape varieties.  Because of its susceptibility to fungal diseases like powdery mildew and because it is low yielding, it fell out of favor,

But it is starting to show up in California thanks to Tablas Creek’s connections. Continue reading

How To Celebrate #SauvBlanc Day Friday May 16, 2014

downloadHot on the heels of last month’s Malbec Day and with Chardonnay Day on the last Thursday in May breathing down its neck, in the year long parade of days set aside to celebrate particular wines, Sauvignon Blanc Day is coming up on Friday, May 16, 2013.
Want to participate? Using the hashtag of #SauvBlanc and with the possibility to stir up a lively debate about the different styles of #SauvBlanc or at least the consumption of them, it’s easy. All you need to do is:

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Join KundeLive Tasting Thurs June 7

There’s nothing like feeling special.

When I opened the box of these three Kunde Estate wines for  the KundeLive! twitter tasting Thursday, June 7th 5:30-6:30pm PacificTime, and slipped the seal apart on the folder to reveal a letter and materials, it made the wine seem super special–and me excited about the tasting. I eagerly read through to learn about the wines we’d be tasting.I already was looking forward to it.

The last one in fall was a blast, and once again Continue reading

Boxed Wine Reviews & Pairings Part 1: Offerings from Octavin & Trader Joe’s

At 12:01am early Monday morning August 29, 2011, the gates to Black Rock City, home of the Burning Man Festival, will open, and some 50,000 people will pour in before the Festival ends on Monday September 5.

Which means that this weekend and in the coming week as people pack and prepare for camping on the playa , 40-50,000 people are buying copious amounts of alcoholic beverages.

Labor Day weekend is also a very popular time to go camping–it’s the last three day weekend of summer and summer weather!

To help my favorite winos with decisions about what to bring whether camping at Burning Man, mountains, lake or beach, I have 11 (that’s ELEVEN) boxed/bag in box/bag wines sitting on my counter which have tasted and I am ready and willing to share my expertise with you! From Octavin, I have a German riesling, a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, a red wine blend from Spain, and a Pinot Noir from France. From Carlo Rossi Founder’s Oak, I have a Merlot, a Cabernet, and a Chardonnay plus Chardonnays from Vella and Turning Leaf. Finally, from Trader Joe’s, I have a Chardonnay and an Australian shiraz.  And since boxed wine keeps for a month or more, I will be bringing these wines to Burning Man for you to taste too! I’ll also say a few words about Pepperwood Grove’s Big Green Box Wine.

I first realized how brilliant boxed wines are for outdoor adventures last November when I received four Big Green Box wines from  Pepperwood Grove and  I took the Old Vine Zin camping.

Boxed wines are really perfect for camping expeditions at Burning Man or elsewhere–they won’t break, you can use them for pillows, and when they’re empty they collapse down into nothing –or fill the bag inside with water, put it in the sun and then use the water for washing dishes or bathing!

In part one of this two part post, I’ll discuss the bag in box offerings from Octavin and Trader Joe’s; part 2 will include Big Green Box and Carlo Rossi Founder’s Oak.

And yes I am bringing these wines out to the playa so YOU can taste them! Check in at PLaya Info–we’ll be doing some tastings there most afternoons around 3-5pm. I’ll also post where and when we’ll be tasting.

Octavin R. Muller “Rabbit” Riesling from Germany

This “medium sweet” wine is best nice and cold (which will be a challenge on the playa!) It would pair well with a cheese plate before or after dinner or with various Asian or Indian spicy stir fries; it was great with a peanut satay sauce, chicken, and vegetables. Light, fresh and aromatic of fresh peaches and pears, it was fermented in stainless steel. Very pleasant, not too complex, slightly metallic finish. 3L box = 4 bottles of wine in the box for $24 or about $6 a bottle. A great value.

Octavin Silver Birch New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

I really think think this NZ Sauvignon Blanc is an exceptional value. I really like NZ sauvignon blanc in general and I would definitely buy this wine and keep it in the fridge for those lunches or dinners when I’m having a salad and just want a small glass of wine with it. Do not taste it after the riesling though–it brings out a little too much of the gooseberry! Lots of bright citrus–lime, grapefruit– and green apple with a hint of nectarine. Here’s another post about this NZ Sauv Blanc and me. At Burning Man or at home, I’d pair this with salads as well as pesto and pasta (and raw oysters!) $24 for 3L (4 bottles). Continue reading

Earth Day Every Day: which wine to choose? Five Tips for “green” wine purchases

I’ve been eco-minded since I was small. My first memories are of the sand between my toes, the smell of damp earth under the house, and the joy of being one with a tree or a rock when climbing it. I’m a Girl Scout First Class, I backpacked from Mexico to Canada, and I have a BA from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies plus graduate classes in conservation biology. I’ve hooted for spotted owls, surveyed for goshawks, hacked peregrine falcons, and preserved burrowing owl habitat.

These days, I spend as much time as possible in the outdoors, camping, traveling, and enjoying fine food and wine! Here we are in Zion recently on top of Angel’s Landing–then enjoying a meal with a bottle of Barolo at the campground.

I’m still an environmental activist,  speaking out about environmental issues at City Council and leading monthly bicycle rides around town. You can read more about bicycle issues over at my Bikergo Gal blog.

So, yes I have some serious “green” cred: I’ve been celebrating Earth Day since before it was invented. Caring about how wine is made and how “green” wine is came “naturally” to me–I also grew up running around my grandfather’s cellar!

Like many, I assumed that wine is “natural.” As I’ve learned more about wine over the past few years, I’ve been appalled at how manipulated wine is  and disgusted by some of the green washing that goes on in the wine industry.

So I do my best to navigate my way to purchase wines that are more green on the sustainability spectrum and produced as naturally as possible. And here on this blog, I try my best to call attention to “green” wines and “green” wine practices to support them.

This afternoon, my friend David Rodriguez is visiting from Puerto Rico–we met in Santa Rosa CA at the first Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008. He’s a world traveling wine blogger with a particular interest in wines that are made in traditional, “natural” ways that are sustainable and gentle to the earth. I look forward to learning from him about some of his recent finds –and tasting some of these wines also since many of them he is storing in my grandfather’s cellar!

Here are five choices you can make to green your wine–whether you prefer red or white! Happy Earth Day! Continue reading

Wine Weds: Frei Brothers Sustainably Grown Syrah, Cab, Sauv Blanc, Chard

It seems to me that if a winery donates wine for an event, the wine should be respected: served in wine glasses by someone who knows a bit about the wine, and with information about the wine available.

So when Frei Brothers donated several cases of wine to me to use at various arts, cultural, and environmental events, I spent some time becoming familiar with the wine and producing materials for a display on the table for those interested in learning more. I would also be pouring the wine.

The following are some of those materials that I developed for the VCCOOL Benefit Concert August 28 and for the Art City First Fridays Open House and ArtRide after party. My information came from materials Frei Brothers sent, from their website, from my tasting notes, and from fellow blogger Rob Bralow in this blog post by which includes an interview with Frei Brothers Chief Viticulturist Jim Collins discussing specifics. Continue reading