Creative Juices Wine Blog

Summertime, and the pairing’s easy.

In case you haven’t been outside recently, it’s hot. I’m not just speaking on behalf of where we are, but the majority of the country is feeling exactly what I’m talking about every day. Many of us are experiencing 100 degree plus temperatures on a regular basis, and with it comes a sense of being overwhelmed by drink choices.

It’s too easy to reach for a cold domestic brew after 15 minutes in this heat, which inevitably lead to sweating through two shirts, and virtually passing out. Here are some recommendations for you that don’t start with ‘Bud’, or end in ‘Light’.

If there is on thing we have learned about serving wine, it’s that exploration (for the most part) died with Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. “I know what I like” is a common phrase from many consumers. That’s not to say that knowing what one likes is a bad thing, but let’s face it, Napa isn’t the only place making wine. Hence, a need for the revival of exploration. This time, with better navigational tools.

For us, hot summertime weather means a break from Cabernet, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, and anything else that could be used as a club in the event a riot breaks out due to frost-bitten nerve endings during the winter months. It’s a well deserved hiatus for us and all of the abuser friendly wines we love so much. During the separation months, these varietals still see periodic visitation on rainy days, or cool(ish) evenings. In some cases, we get to visit them in the form of Rosés, which is nice. Speaking of Rosés, I feel the need to call men out briefly. It’s ok to drink pink wines. They’re not all sweet. They’re not White Zinfandel or White Merlots. And it by no means makes you look feminine. All you’re really doing is saying, ‘I have a sophisticated palate, and I don’t buy into stereotypes.’ The next time you’re at a wine tasting, give the pink one a go. You may be surprised.

That being said, here are some more heat friendly wines for you to enjoy. The first thing you’ll want to do is avoid heavy oaking. Sorry Cali Chards. Think White Burgundy (Chablis, Côte de Beaune) are great choices, or possibly Viognier from further south in Rhone. Try Sancerre, Alsacian Riesling, Pinot Gris, or Gewürztraminer. These are amazing choices this time of year. Looking for something a bit more crisp, and tropical? Perhaps more floral? How about Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or some Mendoza Torrontes? If you’ve never heard of some of these, that’s okay. That’s why wine professionals exist. If you’re at a restaurant, ask your server or sommelier what they suggest. We still ask for recommendations when we go out. I frequently ask questions like, “what would you pair with 100 degree heat, a pulled muscle, and the shrimp scampi?” If someone can answer a question like that without looking at you like you’re clinically insane, drink what they recommend. They know what they’re doing. You will also find luck with Grüner Veltliner from Austria, and in a multitude of German Rieslings. Try to avoid a lot of sugar though. Lean towards the dry or Troken end of the spectrum. Don’t let me forget sparkling wine, or Champagne. A little bubbly on a hot day is always the right choice. Celebration or not, bubbles will make you smile. On that note, something a little fizzy that we find does the trick is Vinho Verde. They’re usually pretty inexpensive, and tasty.

If you can’t get over your winter Red kick, that’s okay too. Just back it off a notch. Just switch the regions around a bit. If you’re a Cab or Merlot drinker that only drinks Cali stuff, think Bordeaux for a change. If you’re a big Zinfandel drinker that loves the spiciness and high alcohol content the Zin carries, try going with a Spanish Garnacha, or Côtes du Rhône. You may find a new friend that you never knew existed. Tempranillo or Mencia may also be valid options. Malbec from Argentina or Cahors, France are quality picks for this time of year, though, I find myself avoiding  them for the most part. Pinot drinker? Love California, or Oregon? Try Central Otago, New Zealand. More good options for Pinot fans would be a Beaujolais Cru, or a Dolcetto d’Alba. You’ll find a sense of home with these lighter style reds.

All of these wines are pretty easy to find. In most wine shops, and restaurants around the country, there is someone waiting for you to come in and just ask questions. That’s what we live for. We have answers, and it’s rewarding on both ends. We get to talk about wine, which we love to do, and you get to enjoy something new. Worst case scenario, just go online and check out wine.com, 2020wines.com, winelibrary.com, or any number of other online resources. This is, of course, if you cannot find it locally.

Good luck, stay cool, and have fun.

Cheers!

-Zak

Creative Juices Wine Show Episode 10: Wine Serving 101

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California, rulis international kitchen, Texas, wine, Wine Reviews, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 16, 2010

This is the best way to order a bottle of wine in a restaurant whilst wearing a ‘Members Only’ jacket. During Episode 10 we show how to properly serve a bottle of wine, but have a bit of fun with it. Enjoy the show! Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Creative Juices Wine Show: Episode 8

Posted in California, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, rulis international kitchen, wine, Wine Reviews, wine shop, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on March 13, 2010

After a short hiatus from the Creative Juices Wine Show, we have returned in a new location, with a much more appealing ‘set’.  In Episode 8, we taste a 2008 Thomas Henry Pinot Noir with special guest Chef Rulis. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Wine Social Follow Up

We want to extend our thanks to all of you who attended our Lodi Wine 101 Social last night at Rulis’. We had a great time, and the wines were terrific! As an early reminder, we will be hosting the Grand Debut of the Wine & Beer Shop opening this Thursday evening at Rulis’ (318 N. Mesa, El Paso, TX) starting at 5pm. We will have live music by West Side Bohemians starting at 7pm. Please come out, and enjoy the music, as well as great food and wine!

Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Creative Juices Wine Show: Episode 3 Petite Sirah

Posted in California, Central Coast, Petite Sirah, Video, wine, Wine Reviews, Wine Tasting by CreativeJuicesWine on February 22, 2010

In this episode, Zak & Olena taste a 2006 Petite Sirah from Concannon. Cheers!!

Tasting Group Follow Up

Hello everyone! We hope you had a great weekend. As you know, we had the first meeting for our new tasting group yesterday evening. Our topic: Chardonnay’s.  We tasted everything blind (from right to left), and were especially intrigued when the wine in glass #2 was a red wine. As we said, this was the first meeting…we still need to work out the kinks. That being said, it was an interesting addition to our line up.

We tasted in random order, and had no idea which bottle was our own (save wine #2) which added to the excitement. We had guesses on which wine belonged to whom (especially wine #2), but in the end upon revealing the bottles, we were mostly just pleased that none of us brought a terrible wine.

Without further adieu, the write-up:

Wine #1 was the 2007 Shannon Ridge Chardonnay from Lake County, California. This wine had a toasty, vanilla, green apple, peachy, melon (cantaloupe), slightly mineral nose that oozed out of the glass effortlessly. It drank velvety smooth, and had a very nice creamy, cedary green apple, and buttery mouthfeel. This was definitely a well made wine, and would pair very well with shrimp, or oysters, or even a stick of butter. (If you like that kind of thing.)

This bottle weighed in 14.2% ABV, and was a great way to start the evening. Shannon Ridge carries a $15 price tag, and represents that price point very well. This is a worth-while bottle to pick up if you’re in the market for an oaked, but not over-oaked Chardonnay from Cali that won’t break the piggy bank.

Wine # 2 was the infamous ‘red wine’ that we spoke of earlier. In all fairness, the group member that brought this wine received an invitation to the group less than 24 hours prior during our Bubbly Event at Rulis’ International Kitchen. Furthermore, there is a good chance we didn’t mention what the topic was.

Now that the disclaimer is up, we will talk about the wine. Bottle #2 was the Chapillon Cuveé Harmonie 2006, which ended up being a Petit Verdot/Tannat blend from the Aragon region in Northern Spain. At first the nose was a little tight, but then it opened up some black cherry, leather, cherry cola, slate, flint, wet leaf aromas that really made us want to dive in and take that first sip. Once we did, there was more cherry, pine needles, some wet soil flavors, and a little bit of green apple, and grape candies (think Jolly Rancher’s). This was a cool wine, and we’re glad it squeaked its way into the Chardonnay tasting.  Advocate gave it 90 points, and it scored well amongst the group as well. You can pick it up for $12 all around Texas, and probably ‘in your nape of the woods, neck of the wape; How come you’re here?’ Sorry, there will probably be more Caddyshack quotes before this post is over.

Wine numero tres was the Felino Viña Cobos 2008 Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. This is another Paul Hobbs creation, and you can see his fingerprints all over this wine. Advocate went 90 points on this wine, and may have sold it short. This monster weighed in at 14.8% ABV, and rocked our faces off. This is a thick, creamy Chard, that despite sitting on oak for 8 months, wasn’t offensively oaky. Mr. Hobbs knows what he is doing, and you need to just trust him. The Felino was fully of Vanilla, and citrus flavors, with a bit of spice, and even a sugar cookie aspect to it, which is just awesome! On the palate, it coats every bit of the mouth with a thick, buttery, whipping cream feel that tastes of baked bread, and vanilla, with more of that sugar cookie from before. For all of you vegans out there searching for a wine that works with your lifestyle, this is one to add to your list. This is an unfined, and unfiltered Vegan friendly Chardonnay. At $22, it comes with a perfectly respectable price tag, and drinks at a much higher level of quality. The Felino is just well made. What more can we say. Go out and find this wine. Seriously…the post will still be here when you get back…Go!

Wine #4 was the Acre Chardonnay from the Central Coast in California. This bottle retails for about $20, and has a light alcohol percentage of 13.5%. Acre has great straw-green color, and has a very fresh, clean nose. Kind of like a fruit salad. This was the one wine that we (Zak & Olena) scored the same, so we’ll include that we gave it 85 points. Realistically, it’s probably a few points higher, but either way, it’s a pretty good wine. No disrespect to this wine, but it did have a very tough act to follow in the Felino. That being said, it’s a well made wine that for $20 isn’t asking for too much, and delivers delicious fruit aromas and flavors. Despite being oaked, we could barely detect it on the first go around. Once we revisited this wine, it was slightly more prevalent, but well placed.

Our final Vino came from William Fevre. You can’t have a Chardonnay tasting without a white Burg. You just can’t. This wine was the William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis 2005. From what we read about the bottle, it can lay down or be drunk from now until 2017. Based on its performance during our tasting, we think it could use a little more time. One interesting note that came out of this wine was a crisp lettuce flavor on the palate. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward, and needed to be accompanied by food, which after the tasting we ended up doing with the final 3 wines. The Chablis pulled it’s big-boy/girl pants up and did what it was meant to do. The Acre showed what a $20 Chard from Cali can do, and the Felino (as if it wasn’t already the star of the show) picked up even more steam. It dominated with Chef Rulis’ seafood concoction that had great heat to it, and was full of flavor.

So that’s it kids. 5 wines.  The New World showed well, granted we only had one Old World white representing in the tasting. The Red Blend was a bonus wine. If you have tasted any of these wines, or just feel like commenting, we would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Video Blog is up!

Posted in Alicante Bouschet, California, Video by CreativeJuicesWine on February 19, 2010

We are excited to announce the official launch of our Creative Juices Video Blog! We will be tasting wine, smelling wine, talking about wine, thinking about wine out loud, and videotaping everything wine in our lives. Considering we are still new in this whole video thing, please understand that minor issues with the quality as well footage will continue to be improved on.

Please please please comment on the videos, tell us how we are doing! We are very excited about this new feature of our blog, and we can’t wait to make it better.

Cheers!

Zak and Olena

Beer vs. Wine Follow Up

Last night was our Beer vs. Wine event at DiVino Wine Bar. We want to extend a personal thank you to everyone who attended the event, and made it so much fun.

Just to recap, we tasted the Sokol Blosser Evolution vs. Stella Artois and paired them both with a Portobello Mushroom Pizza. In the end, there were mixed results for who came out the ‘winner’. People liked the way that Stella melded with the cheese and the crust of the pizza, while the Evolution brought out some amazing flavor in the mushrooms. For what it’s worth, Olena & I thought the Evolution (because of what it did for the mushrooms) was the clear winner. Some of the guests may not feel the same, but that’s okay. The good people at Sokol Blosser’s Tasting Room in Dundee, OR were very supportive, and helpful when we spoke to them on the phone yesterday afternoon. They seemed thrilled that we were including their wine in our little taste off. –Thanks for your help, Jennifer.

The second Match-up was Sebastiani & Son’s The Crusher Petite Sirah vs. Duvel. We paired the two with the “Divino Panino”, which is made with Genoa Salame, Spring Mix, Four cheese blend, Artichoke, Olive Tepanade, S. Dried Tomato & Lemon Caper dressing. Delicious on its own, yes, but when paired with The Crusher Petite Sirah it’s untouchable. Sorry Duvel, you fell short on this one. The aptly named ‘Crusher’ did just that in this contest (if you can call it that).

Overall, we had a great time, and are looking forward to our next event at Coco.Miel this Saturday at 2pm. Email us for more details.

Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Two Cabernet Francs

Posted in Cabernet Franc, California, Chinon, France, Loire, Napa Valley, wine, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on February 16, 2010

Yesterday we ended up grabbing two Cabernet Francs and comparing them side by side… on video. Until we post that, here is a quick rundown on our experience.

Wine: Moulin des Sablons, Chinon

Varietal: Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 1999

Alcohol: 12%

Our Score: 86 points

Price: $12

The color was brick-orange, with light color going out to the rim. The cork itself showed a lot of tartrates, and you can definitely see that on the picture to the right.

The palate was well integrated, with notes of vanilla, limestone, red cherry and chalk. It had healthy acidity, and showed a lot of fruit character. Overall, we thought the wine was pleasant, but it has probably peaked a couple years back, and we caught it on the way down. We’d recommend enjoying a wine like that quickly, before its gentle aroma gets lost in the surrounding air. We awarded the wine well deserved 86 points, which is a great score considering its price.

Wine: Beaucanon Estate L Cuvee

Varietal: Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 2003

Alcohol: 14.1%

Our Score: 88 points

Price: $25

This one was deeper in color, had a nose you can detect from feet away, and a palate to die for. It had notes of pepper, currants and cassis on the nose, while the palate also added a generous dash of vanilla and sour cherry. The acidity yet again was tying the wine together. We awarded the wine 88 points and enjoyed it with pizza.

Voilà, we had a blast tasting these wines and we hope to post the video certifying so online shortly.

Cheers!

Zak and Olena

Another Wine Review (This time, Cab)

Hey there-

You guessed it, we tasted more wine today. After one of the longest weekends in recent memory, it was time to fire up a steak and drink. If you know one thing about the taller half of this relationship, it’s that he loves red meat. If you know two things about him, it’s that he loves red meat, and can definitely hook a steak up.

All of that being said, we went and grabbed a giant rib-eye to grill, and a California Cab to pair with. After all was said and done, we have this to report to you: The Cab and the steak went great together (Like Lamb and Tunafish) what? No good? Ok, how about like this couple? Yeah, like that.

So here’s the deal. While at the store, we grabbed said Cab. It seemed like a really good idea, because we like buying wine that doesn’t break the bank. Since we drink wine every single day, we know you understand.

Wine: Main Street Winery

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2006

Alcohol: 13.5% ABV

Our Score: 80 points

Price: $12

This bottle cost us $12 and as we said, paired wonderfully with the steak, but left a little to be desired when consumed alone. Correction…a lot to be desired. After a pretty promising nose that was full of leather, black pepper, cherry, cedar, tobacco, wet gravel, and a little limestone, it died a painful death as it hit the palate. Its mouthfeel was kind of blah, and threw a dash of pepper, some unripe cherry (thanks) and gun metal. No offense but we wish we were spitting, not drinking this wine.

To review, it tasted like we were eating a gun barrel (as fun as that sounds…) and wanting to sneeze from ingesting too much pepper, while dealing with the devastation of buying (or picking) fruit before it is ready. Can you taste the excitement?!?

In closing, we gave this wine 80 points, and will recommend it to our neighborhood cats, and possibly Sarah Palin. Cheers!

Zak & Olena