Posts tagged ‘wine’

February 28, 2012

CalNaturale Wine

I’ve been exploring wine quite a bit recently (that’s not code for just getting drunk, though it could be), and trying out more of my mom’s fave Cameron Hughes (click here for $25 off your first order), perhaps encouraged by last year’s press trip to Loudoun County, VA with a total wine guru. When I heard about CalNaturale, a California certified organic wine packaged in eco-friendly Tetra Paks, I was more than happy to give it a shot.

CalNaturale wine

Wine in a box is getting a better rep, but like screw-on tops it’ll be quite some time—if ever—for box wine to compete in the classiness category with bottles. That said, you really can’t complain about the portability, ease, and taste of many boxes, and once it’s in a wine glass you wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

At least, my co-testers didn’t. “Wait, this is the box wine? Tastes better than the other one,” said one of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which has won six gold medals in wine competitions, including a gold at the 2011 World Value Wine Challenge. The Cab is from French Camp Vineyard in the Paso Robles Appellation. The tasting notes say berries, spicy black currants, and a hint of French oak. My opinion is that it’s full-bodied without being too much.

Chardonnay isn’t really my cup-o-wine, as it were, but the 2009 CalNaturale Chardonnay is a silver medal winner. Tasting notes say it has a hint of vanilla from lightly toasted oak; shows fruit to the end with ripe apples, pear, and a hint of citrus. I taste a refreshing, apple-y white—definitely drinkable. It’s cultivated in Mendocino County.

Both wines are available in 500ML ($6.99) and 1L ($12.99) at HEB, Whole Foods, and other wine and grocery stores. The medals don’t lie … I’d highly recommend the Cab for a value wine (and/or for camping, boating, sporting events, and the like)!

November 18, 2011

Feel Good Friday 111811

Feel Good Friday is a roundup of the things that made me feel good or that I’m grateful for all week. Join me and leave your Feel Goods in the comments!

Classic Pass! Let the skiing and snowboarding commence!

Matsu Mondays … I ate FOUR handrolls. Is that a new record?

Elk burgers. Holy yum.

Impromptu pilates when “deep leg and hip stretch” class was cancelled … tiny micro-movement was NOT what my hips wanted but giggling throughout class with Nikita was worth every minute. All 45 of them.

Not one but TWO photo shoots! Juice and fashion, my two faves?

honeybee organic juice bar aspen

My health. My strength. My family. My faith. Optimism.

Carl’s annual Thanksgiving Wine Sale. 4 bottles of 2007 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir? Yes please.

Robi landed in Aspen today! Watch out, town! Epic weekend ahead.

See last week’s Feel Goods here.

August 25, 2011

Aspen: Wine and Heels

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Aspen’s latest ladies’ night craze: Wine in Heels. It’s a women-only (save for a few media men) wine and food pairing geared toward educating women about wine and food and creating networking opportunities. It works.

Wine in Heels is hosted on top of the Dancing Bear, which is an absolutely amazing location. We were greeted at the door with champagne, then sampled four wines through four flights of wine + food. We did Wine and Asian food, which was a real treat: wine with sushi, tom kha, and steamed buns.

Wine in Heels

Coming up tomorrow is Wine & Comfort Food! Think decadent mac & cheese … from 6-8p, $75.
August 17, 2011

Cameron Hughes Obsession + $25 coupon!

As someone who once wrote email marketing newsletters for a living, I like to think I am immune to sales pitches. I clearly am not.

When Cameron Hughes told me that his new Lot 228 Muscato d’Asti was the ultimate summer wine, something resonated with me. I promptly ordered 3 bottles.

Cameron Hughes Lot 228Cameron Hughes Lot 228Cameron Hughes Lot 228

And then drank two of them in three days.

I can’t believe I just admitted that. However, it only has 7% alcohol (most wine is between 13-14%), so at least be comforted by the fact that I wasn’t wine-drunk for three days straight.

My mom has long been a Cameron Hughes fan. She’ll tell everyone and anyone—including strangers at Costco—how much she loves Cameron Hughes. He basically buys overstock of really great grapes, bottles them, and then won’t tell you where they’re from so the Mondavis of the wine world can’t get mad at you. He’ll tell you everything else though, and his wines are cheap. My 3-bottle sampler was $39 with free shipping!

Click here to get $25 off any order of 3+ bottles!

June 15, 2011

ASPEN: Food & Wine Classic

I just got back from an Aspen Business Luncheon with Food & Wine Publisher and Vice President Christina Grdovic. She was an excellent, fast-paced speaker, and her talk really got me jazzed about the upcoming weekend! Even though I don’t have passes to the actual events, there’s plenty for me to do … ASPEN magazine, Aspen Peak, Mario Batali, lots of scotch companies, and countless others are throwing non-official parties (think SXSW ’08, before all the “non-official” parties were too big).

If you’re lucky enough to be attending, you’ve likely already checked out, but I find the website confusing and not all that interesting. Better to download the free app and follow the hashtag #fwclassic on twitter throughout the weekend for the REAL news. If you’re not attending, no worries, the town is abuzz with crazy energy, and you’re likely to spot some serious starpower … last year I saw Giada de Laurentiis heading up the Gondola and Mario Batali with his fam at Bruno’s. It’s a blast, tickets or no.

Also note that the Saturday Market starts up this Saturday, so there’s tons of local merchants and farmers selling their goods, and it’s a great place to wander enjoying the Aspen sunshine.

May 17, 2011

Austin Food & Wine Festival

… just another way Austin and Aspen are uniquely synchronized:

The Austin Food & Wine Festival

C3 Presents with Chef Tyson Cole, Chef Tim Love & Jesse Herman are creating the Austin Food & Wine Festival March 30-April 1, 2012 in locations throughout Austin. It is presenting sponsor Food & Wine (yep, the same as Aspen)’s first festival involvement in Texas.

Austin Food and Wine

“Our passion for food is integrated into each of our festivals—with the influence of culinary ambassadors Graham Elliot at Lollapalooza and chef Tim Love at Austin City Limits helping keep the local flavor of each event on par with the entire festival experience,” said Charlie Jones, founding partner of C3 Presents. “It seemed only natural that we expand this passion to host a culinary destination festival in Austin, Texas dedicated solely to food and wine, where the food scene continues to surprise and delight us.”

The popular Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival will turn into a 501 C (3) nonprofit organization called the Austin Food & Wine Foundation and be the designated beneficiary of the Austin Food & Wine Festival. / /

*Aspen just released its one-day Food & Wine tickets for $395.

March 28, 2011

Austin: For Japan

A couple of really cool events coming up benefit Japan. Here’s a rundown:

Wine for the Win

TRIO will donate 50% of the total revenue of all wine bottles sold now through Wednesday, March 30 to the Red Cross to aid in Japan’s emergency relief efforts. The wine promotion applies to every bottle of wine sold in TRIO.

Chef de Cuisine Todd Duplechan was scheduled to visit Japan March 21 through April 2, 2011 for a 10-day “Taste of Texas in Tokyo” restaurant event at Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi. The event was cancelled after the earthquake, so rather than send Todd, the restaurant has committed to send money to aid in the relief efforts instead.

Cookies (and more) for Caring

On Saturday, April 2 from 10am to 2pm, hundreds of bakers, bloggers, businesses, and consumers will unite for Austin Bakes for Japan, a bake sale fundraising event.  Over 70 home cooks and dozens of local bakeries will be contributing baked goods at locations throughout Austin with proceeds going to AmeriCares work in Japan.

Austin Bakes for Japan

There are 5 Austin Bakes for Japan locations:

Downtown: Woof Gang Bakery Austin, 1204 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78703 (10am-2pm)

North Central: Foreign & Domestic, 306 E. 53rd Street, Austin, TX 78751 (10am-2pm)

South: Hotel San Jose, 1316 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704 (10am-2pm)

East: Nomad Bar, 1213 Corona Drive, Austin, TX 78723 (10am-2pm)

West: Austin Bakes for Japan + Community Block Party; Shops at Mira Vista, 2785 Bee Cave Road, Suites 336 & 341, Austin, 78746 (10am-5pm)

Baked goods will include Japanese-themed cake pops, homemade pop tarts, classic chocolate brownies, cookies of all kinds, and more. Among the homemade offerings will be locally sourced, organic, vegan and gluten-free items. In addition, customers may purchase gourmet pastries that have been donated by some of Austin’s finest professional bakers.

All funds raised at the bake sale will go to AmeriCares, a non-profit organization committed to providing emergency relief to survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. All baked goods will be sold by donation, so buyers can pay as much as they like.

Interested in providing baked goods and/or volunteering to help with the bake sales?? Contact Kathryn Hutchison at

Shirts and Stuff

Don’t forget about This Shirt.

Daily Candy’s 6 Ways to Shop for Japan (#6 is my fave)

March 7, 2011

Austin: Top Texas Wines

I love wine, and I love wine from Texas.With more than 215 wineries, Texas is the fifth-largest wine producing state and seventh-largest grape producer. In the first-ever Texas Sommelier Tasting, nearly a dozen sommeliers and wine experts blind tasted more than 100 Texas wines to select their favorites. The cool thing about Texas wines is that the winemakers are not afraid to experiment and play around with atypical varieties.

“While Texas makes some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Chardonnays, winemakers across the Lone Star State are not afraid to introduce wine consumers to new wines well-suited for our climate and our Southwestern foods,” said Robert Champion, state coordinator of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Wine Marketing Program.

Here are the favorites … looks like I need to get myself on a wine tour stat, I’ve only tried wine from a few of these winners! I’m particularly loving the sound of the Brennan Vineyards wines!

Grape Creek Vineyards, 2008 Merlot
Pedernales Cellars, 2008 Merlot

Brennan Vineyards, 2007 Syrah

Petite Syrah:
Torre di Pietra Vineyards, 2008 Petite Syrah

Tempranillo/Tempranillo Blends:
Inwood Estates Vineyards, 2008 Cornelius
Inwood Estates Vineyards, 2007 Tempranillo-Cabernet
Pedernales Cellars, 2008 Tempranillo
Red Caboose Winery and Vineyard, 2007 Tempranillo
La Buena Vida Vineyards-Springtown, 2005 Smith Estate Tempranillo

Cabernet Sauvignon:
Crump Valley Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Brennan Vineyards, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Kiepersol Estates Winery, 2007 Texas Cabernet Sauvignon

Rhone and Bordeaux Blends:
Becker Vineyards, 2009 Prairie Rotie
Inwood Estates Vineyards, 2006 Magellan
Messina Hof Wine Cellars, 2006 Paulo Bordeaux Blend

Red Blends:
Brushy Creek Vineyards, NV Trois Amis
Pedernales Cellars, 2008 Kuhlken Vineyards Reserve
Red Caboose Winery and Vineyard, 2008 Lenoir/Tempranillo
Sandstone Cellars, 2009 X
Llano Estacado, 2007 Viviano
Fall Creek Vineyards, 2006 Meritus

Other Reds:
Duchman Family Winery, 2009 Dolcetto
Duchman Family Winery, 2009 Montepulciano
Messina Hof Wine Cellars, 2009 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc
Sandstone Cellars, 2009 VII

Driftwood Estate Winery, 2010 Dry Rosé
McPherson Cellars, 2009 Rosé of Syrah
Messina Hof Wine Cellars, 2010 Sophia Marie Rosé

Llano Estacado, 2009 (this is a great, cheap bottle)

Unoaked Chardonnay:
Fall Creek Vineyards, 2009 Chardonnay

Lone Oak Winery, 2010 Viognier
Brennan Vineyards, 2009 Viognier

Blanc du Bois:
Haak Vineyards and Winery, 2010 Dry Blanc du Bois
Lone Oak Winery, 2010 Blanc du Bois
Enoch’s Stomp, 2009 Off-Dry Blanc du Bois
Haak Vineyards and Winery, 2010 Semi-Sweet Blanc du Bois

Pinot Grigio:
Texas Hills Vineyard, 2008 Pinot Grigio

Bell Mountain Vineyards, 2007 Late Harvest Riesling

Other Whites:
Duchman Family Winery, 2009 Vermentino
Llano Estacado, 2009 Viviana
Landon Winery, 2010 Gewurztraminer

Enoch’s Stomp, 2009 Sweet Lenoir
Grape Creek Vineyards, NV Port
Pleasant Hill Winery, NV Tawny Rosso Forte
Texas Hills Vineyard, 2008 Moscato
Stone House Vineyard, NV Scheming Beagle Port
McPherson Cellars, NV Chansa Solera Reserva Sherry
Enoch’s Stomp, 2009 Ellen’s Sweet Song

***If your fave Texas wine wasn’t mentioned, leave it in the comments!***

November 9, 2010

Austin: Fall Frommage Fest at French Legation

Love cheese? Love wine? Love Texas?

Are those even questions? Hit up a free event celebrating the preservation project currently underway at the French Legation, a non-profit historic house museum and the oldest wood-frame structure and home in Austin. Head to The French Legation Museum Wednesday November 10th from 5:30 – 7pm for incredible Austin cheese creations and French wine.

Creations from Austin’s Indulge Cheese paired with the gift of wine from our special friend Franc Petit, of France, from the 13th century vineyard Domaine de l’Abbaye , located in Villefranche-sur-mer, France, plus a delegation visit from Villefranche-sur-Mer, led by Deputy Mayor Cedric Cirasa. Part of a continued effort by the FLM to support beneficial cultural and economic Franco-Texan connections, the Fall Fest kicks off a week of Austin area activities designated for the French visitors.


July 22, 2010

Texas Wines Win!

Being a Texan is an admittedly huge part of my identity. My state pride may or may not be larger than my national pride, so naturally I MUST tell you that Texas wines are winning! I received a press release on Texas wines winning, and I got really excited. Upon further inspection it turns out that Texas wines are winning Texas competitions. [Pride fizzles a smidge] Nonetheless, our hot, hot hills can still produce some fine wine.

Home to more than 280 family-owned vineyards that cover 2,500 acres and more than 180 wineries, Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the nation. The Texas wine industry contributes approximately $1.35 billion a year to the state’s economy and supports more than 9,000 jobs for Texans. Current wine production is estimated to be 2.4 million gallons per year and growing annually with 95 percent of this wine consumed in the Lone Star State. (Erm, so maybe no one else IS drinking our wine, but we love it anyway!!)

Consider this a must-try list of Texas wines that took top honors in 2010 at five “international” wine competitions held in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio (yep, Texas).

· Becker Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Wilmeth Vineyard – Best of Show Red Wine (San Antonio Wine Festival)
· Becker Vineyards 2008 Fleur Sauvage – Class Champion and Texas Class Champion (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition)
· Becker Vineyards 2008 Barbera, Peter’s Prairie Vineyard – Texas Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· Becker Vineyards 2009 Clementine Late Harvest Viognier, Bingham Family Vineyards – Texas Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· Flat Creek Estate Mistella NV – Top Texas Wine and Texas Class Champion (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition)
· Georgetown Winery Lone Star Frost NV – Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· Grape Creek Vineyards 2007 Serendipity – Texas Class Champion (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition)
· Grape Creek Vineyards 2009 Viognier, Lost Draw Vineyards – Texas Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· McPherson Cellars 2009 Rosé of Syrah – Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· McPherson Cellars dbs 2007 – Reserve Class Champion (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition)
· Messina Hof Winery – Best of Herd Award (San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo)
· Messina Hof 2005 Papa Paulo Port Private Reserve – Texas Grand Star (Lone Star International Wine Competition)
· Messina Hof Winery 2008 Chenin Blanc – People’s Choice Grand Champion White Wine (San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo)
· Sunset Winery 2005 “Vintner’s Select” Orange Muscat, Newsom Vineyard – Texas Class Champion (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition)

So maybe we’re not world-recognized YET. You should note that a lot of the winners play with grapes that are our own, not the typical chardonnay or merlot grapes. Texans … always doing it our own way.


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