Wine Blogging Wednesday #55: North vs South

In this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday,  host Remy Charest the Wine Case challenges us to taste, to discuss, and to blog about not one but two wines: one from the “south” and one from the “north.”

I met Remy at the Wine Bloggers Conference last October when we strolled the vineyards of Quivera with a small group then I sat next to him at lunch. Now I often visit his blog and I follow him on Twitter, so I was happy to find out he was offering this month’s prompt which includes these closing words:

The one restriction is that the wines should be comparable in nature: Bordeaux blends from Bordeaux and Australia, sauvignon blanc from the Loire and from California, cabernet franc from the Niagara and Long Island, riesling from Washington State and Spring Mountain, etc. If you compare a Barossa shiraz with a chablis… well there just isn’t much actual comparing to do, right?

You have until March 18 to find these wines, taste them – and while you’re at it, see how they compare with a same dish. Put your tasting notes up on your blog, put up a link as a comment on this blog, and you’re all set. Heck, if you don’t have a blog, you can just put up a tasting note as a comment here, and I’ll include it in my roundup, on the weekend of the 21st of March – the official beginning of spring.

Cheers to everyone, and thanks a bunch to Lenn Thompson, founder of the WBW, for letting me in on the fun.

How to decide what to drink? A French Rhone wine with a California or Australian style rhone? A coupla GSMs perhaps like Twisted Oak’s with one from AUS? A California favorite like a syrah with an AUS favorite syrah from Grateful Palate? What about a northern California syrah and a southern California one? Hmmn, I’ve been wanting to try Vino V’s Michael Meagher’s Syrah–maybe this is finally the time!

Notice any trends? Bet I’ll be writing about something red for Wednesday!

Thanks Remy for the fun prompt!

Greening Valentine’s Day with organic treats, homemade gifts & local, sustainable, organic, biodynamic wines of course!

Even though Valentine’s Day screams RED: red roses, red foil chocolates, red sweaters, red hearts, and RED ink in your checking account, GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN this year! Turn your Valenfree trade chocolatestine’s Day GREEN with some of these tips from LIVE Earth: Save a Little Love for the Planet on Valentine’s Day (photo by LA Green Girl). Wine Predator’s additional tips and commentary are in bold and italics.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! February 14th is Saturday and you want to be prepared, but while you’re at it why not show some love for the planet too. It doesn’t take much to green your Valentine’s gifts and festivities. You will be surprised at how much love you can spread around the world. Here are some great tips you can use to show your loved one you care about them, and the planet.

1. So you’ll want a card to go with the wine. Buy valentine cards from local artists who make greeting cards out of recycled material.

artlifekissessm2Most art galleries feature a selection of cards by local artists: around here, I find my favorites at Farmer and the Cook in Meiners Oaks by a local cycling activist artist or at Buenaventura Art Gallery on Fir by the Post Office. Or download my kisses poem and send me a donation; you could also send your loved one a link to my Kisses poem (and show me a little link love too while you’re at it by linking to Kisses on your site!)

2. Make your own valentine cards with recycled items and things from nature such as dried flowers, satin ribbons, fabric hearts.

Try going to the beach or the snow and handwriting your message! Photo the message and send it to your loved one! Or print it out!

3. If you like to enjoy your wine by candlelight, use eco-friendly fragrance free candles. Beeswax or vegetable based candles that are biodegradable and smoke-free are a good choice.

Beeswax candles also clean and clear the air of pollutants and they smell wonderfully while they burn. I find mine at our local farmers markets; I keep them near sunlight so as they warm during the day, they exhale a rich sweet scent.

4. Choose wine or champagne that’s  organic, biodynamic, or sustainably produced. If there is a vineyard near,  buy from there. You will be supporting a local business, cutting down the use of packaging for shipping and probably saving some money too.

images-2Organic isn’t the only GREEN wine around–look for biodynamic wine or wines produced from sustainable vineyards, wineries and businesses.

One “green” red  I enjoyed recently over New Years weekend in Joshua Tree is RN13 Vin de pique-nique which indeed is perfect for a Valentine’s Day picnic! Made from 40% cabernet, 40% syrah, and 25% grenache (and sometimes mourverde)  grown organically in the south of France (Languedoc-Roussillon), the blend brings out the best of all three–it’s a spicy, silky,  full bodied,  full of fruit, full of fun!

I found the wine in Joshua Tree for $15 at a funky little cool cafe and shop on the corner across the street from the strip mall in Joshua Tree where you’ll find a thrift store and a natural foods market. We enjoyed it during a cloudy, wind whipped sunset in Joshua Tree and with a dinner of bolognese, salad, and stuffed portabellas. If you’re not in the neighborhood of Joshua Tree NP, try a Whole Foods Market.

The unusual way it’s bottled makes it easy to reuse as well! And each time you reuse the bottle, you will remember your special “picnic”!11ojai

Yesterday at a Santa Lucia Highland’s tasting in LA I tasted dozens of wonderful wines–mostly chardonnays like Bernardus full of character and pinots like Belle Glos with its lipstick red dripping cork seal and amazing nose plus a few intense syrahs like Wrath or Novy’s 2006. I also discovered Hahn’s sustainably grown wines. Unfortunately,  by the time I made it to their table, they were packing up. They did give me some seeds which they use as a cover crop and we will plant for Valentine’s Day!

You’d be surprised how many biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines that are being made in the US these days and beyond! Go here to learn about biodynamic wines from Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma.

You’d also be surprised at the number of wineries scattered across the country; I know I am! I’m lucky since in my backyard I have world-class wine and winemakers like Manfred Frankl of Sine Qua Non and the up and coming Michael Meagher at Vino V, and long-time local winemaking guru Adam Tolmach at Ojai producing wine from grapes typically sourced within 50 miles of my house.

5. For dessert, buy Organic or fair trade chocolates treats, (if you can buy from companies whose profits go to helping endangered species) or make your own chocolate treats with organic chocolates, nuts and fruits.

chocolate-strawberriesMaking your own customized chocolate treats like chocolate dipped strawberries with pecans really is easy! Finding organic strawberries this time of year is simple also since now is when they are really coming in season. While my favorites “Harry’s Berries” aren’t certified organic, the family follows sustainable and organic practices. You can find a recipe here.