Around the World with Sauvignon Blanc: 7 wines from 5 continents

With Sauvignon Blanc Day on the horizon, Sue and I thought it would be fun to test our knowledge and to compete and contrast wines from around the world in a blind tasting. Imagine our surprise when in response to our request we received six wines from Terlato,  three from NZ Wine Navigator, and three from Brancott to add to samples from Idaho and others! With a dozen to choose from, we selected two wines from the Marlborough region of NZ, one wine each from NZ Wine Navigator and one from Terloto for Sauvignon Blanc Day #1 on April 25  And set aside the rest to choose from for a recent blind testing where

we tasted seven wines from five continents!

It was a warm day in Ojai so instead of paper bags, we wrapped each bottle in foil, used painters tape with sharpie to number them, printed out tasting sheets, made a plate with goat and other cheeses and appetizers including a pesto pasta salad, and away we went!  We grabbed them randomly from the ice chest and plopped the on the table for the tasting. Here are our results: Continue reading

Celebrate NZ Harvest & CA spring! Villa Maria Thirsty Girl Tasting Weds!

It’s Harvest Time in New Zealand and Spring Time in California! Celebrate both with the first Thirsty Girl #TGTaste Twitter Tasting of 2013 set for Wednesday March 27 at 5 pm PST  (8 pm EST). You’re invited! Continue reading

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Report

Wednesday night’s Thirsty Girl Twitter Tasting, as usual, was a blast. We honestly enjoyed both Villa Maria Sauvigon Blancs very much, our food pairs were divine, the company was vivacious, and keeping up with all the action on twitter as well as with my fellow Wine Predators (including new Predator Que Syrah Sue!) was an adrenaline rush!

We tasted the wines with bread, goat cheese with and without sundried tomatoes, olive oil, two kinds of pesto (kale as well as the arugala, rosemary, basil), and raw oysters with or without pesto garnish. We loved them both and found them inspiring; Continue reading

NZ Sauvignon Blanc Twitter Tasting 5/16

Next Wednesday, May 16, from 5-6pm, I’ll be participating in the Thirsty Girl Twitter Tasting (!/beathirstygirl) with Villa Maria Wines (!/villamaria_wine), Master of Wine, Alastair Maling ( and head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco–and you can too! I think you can guess from this photo of Alastair from the Thirsty Girl website that we’re going to be in for some laughs.

Everyone is welcome to ask about New Zealand wines and in particular Sauvignon Blanc. Just use the hashtag #TGTaste so we can find your tweets! In particular, I am interested in learning more about the winery’s environmentally sound and sustainable practices, of which they are proud. Continue reading

Wine Predator Recruits Ima Zinner, Bacchus Schmacchus & Annie Any-Day

Because life is short and wine is best shared with good friends over fine food, I have decided to share the wealth, the wine, and the fun as well as the responsibilities of taking notes and helping me write Wine Predator posts with three good friends.

Annie, Dave, and Kathy have all joined me on numerous treks to Los Angeles for industry wine tasting as well as twitter tastings I’ve hosted here at the house on various occasions. These friends not only have a great appreciation of wine, but they are funny, witty, and have a flair for coming up with great descriptors for wines.

We celebrated our new venture last night by tasting five very different wines: NZ pinot noir, a French bordeaux, and three tawny ports–a 40, a 20, and a NV. As we tasted, we merely took notes; in the future we will also tweet as Art Predator and possibly do some youtubes for the Art Predator channel. We thought doing the videos in lingerie might get people more interested, but maybe someone is already doing that? 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

Octavin Sauv Blanc Goes to See the Beach Boys at Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park

Last night we decided to take a picnic to to see the Beach Boys at the Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park Grandstand.

(Actually, the Beach Boys were playing at the Fair inside the Fairgrounds–we planned to watch from the beach outside the Fairgrounds as you can see from the accompanying photo!)

We packed up a dinner of Trader Joe’s beet and chicken salad (supplemented with more greens, tomatoes from our garden and pine nuts), TJs chicken wine country salad, pita bread, humous, home made pasta salad with roasted vegetables, carrot sticks and sharp cheddar cheese.  has claimed August as “Pinot Grigio” month with this site (and a new wine to spotlight each month in the works), I thought we’d start celebrating with a sample of a 2010 Italian Pinot Grigio, Attems, that I thought would be a good match with the chicken. I pulled the plastic cork as we were packing up, tasting it to make sure it was good and to take a few tasting notes on it for a blog post. Mmn, good! Melon…honeysuckle…tropical fruit…rich…nice!

But when I went to pack it in my pannier with the rest of the picnic and our plastic GoVino glasses, I wondered if I was making the right choice. Was the glass bottle going to break or spill? I probably shouldn’t have opened it first. I thought about how there were going to be four adults–was there going to be enough?

I opened the refrigerator and there was a Silver Birch New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Octavin sample sitting there in the fridge where my husband put it when it arrived the other day.

Hmmn, I thought to myself–I wonder if this Octavin wine is good enough to bring to share with friends, one who has a discerning palate? It’s certainly portable. It wouldn’t get knocked over and spilled. There would be plenty–the box holds the equivalent of four bottles. But was it heavy? Actually, no–and the size is quite compact.

I opened it by pushing in the cardboard, pulling out the nozzle, giving it a twist and out came the wine in a squirt. It certainly had familiar New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc characteristics: very pale in color, lots of bright citrus (grapefruit, lemon, lime) in the nose, fresh and crisp on the palate (can you say citrus and green apple?), almost sharp, with a clean finish and 13% alcohol. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity here but that’s okay! This is a picnic at a concert! You can find it just about anywhere in its distinctive turquoise 8 sided box for around $20. (I know–it’s amazing how inexpensive good wine can be when it’s not in an expensive bottle!)

So that’s how a box of Octavin NZ Sauvignon Blanc got into my pannier while the pinot grigio went in the fridge for another day! Off we rode on our bikes along the beach path to see the Beach Boys at the Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park Grandstand where it pleased my friends (if not my husband–he’s a bigger pinot grigio fan than a sauv blanc fan!)

Since all four of us last night who tasted it are long time Burners, the Octavin Sauv Blanc will definitely go on my list of recommended wines for Burning Man! More reviews of wines for Burning Man to follow!  You can see that the Octavin is right at home on the bumper of a rental truck!

As much fun as our picnic was last night, tonight we’ve got a chicken roasting on the barbeque and we’re staying home for dinner–we’ve got a date with that bottle of Attems pinot grigio! (Review soon!) Then we’re riding our bikes over to the Fairgrounds with some other Burner friends and their kids to watch REO Speedwagon at 7:30pm.

Yep, that’s us–we just roll with the changes! For the full line-up and the skinny on fair entertainment, read on…

The Ventura County Fair every year offers “free” Grandstand Entertainment with your $12 paid admission to the Fair! But even better, if you’ve had your fill of the fair and you don’t want to pay $12 just for the “free” entertainment, you can ride your bike along the beach bike trail and find a spot where you can hear the concert and even watch it on the jumbotron which is wh … Read More

via art predator