Friday, May 18, 2012

Echelon Wine Review

The Winos were recently given an opportunity to review wines from Echelon. One of the things that makes it difficult for people to enjoy wine is the selection process. Too many choices can make it difficult to decide, but Echelon make the selection process simple with a short list of great wines to choose from. 

Their new California Series, which consists of "a compilation of the finest that California has to offer."  There are five varieties in the series:
  1. * Pinot Noir
  2. * Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. * Red Blend
  4. * Pinot  
  5. * Chardonnay
The grapes are selected from various regions throughout California, a state which is known to produce some of the best wines in the world (and home to the Winos).

While the Winos love all types of wines, we tend to fancy white wines a tad bit more. So we decided to give the Pinot Grigio a try. 

Photo credit: Echelon

Region: Monterey County, CA
Year: 2010
Color: Pale straw
Aroma: Lemony
Alcohol: 12.5%

This is a wine that must be served chilled, otherwise you'll never be able to appreciate the flavor. It's mild fruity notes pair well with a little spice and a lot of savory. Pairing with anything sweet will completely destroy the flavor of the wine (at least that was Middle Sister's experience after trying it with a sugar cookie... big mistake). 

We give the California Series Pinot Grigio:

Echelon Collection Series is bottled in limited quanties:
  1. * Pinot Noir
  2. * Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. * Chardonnay
The grapes in this series are grown in the California appelations, which "consistently receive acclaim for their stellar portrayal of specific varieties." 

In keeping with our white theme here, we decided to taste the Chardonnay, and we couldn't have made a better choice!

Photo credit: Echelon

Region: Napa Valley, CA
Year: 2010
Color: Straw
Aroma: Honey 
Alcohol: 13.5%

This wine is fabulous! If you close your eyes you can smell every single note. The notes of vanilla and oak really stand out.  Little Sister thought this would be excellent paired with a strawberry fields salad (or any fresh fruit). This wine cleans the palate and delights the senses. 

We give the Collection Series Chardonnay:

This was our first encounter with Echelon and we were very impressed. Definitely a brand for the cellar!

This is not a paid post. We received two bottles of Echelon wine through Clever Girls Collective to fascilitate this review. All views expressed are the opinion of the Winos.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chaucer's Mead

Mead Label
Photo credit Chaucer's
I can't tell you how many times I've passed Chaucer's Mead up and down the wine aisle of my favorite grocery store. My sister suprised me with it during the holidays, but for whatever reason we didn't pop the cork. So after our kite flying at the Korean Friendship Bell Sunday afternoon, I mentioned to my sister that it was the perfect time for Chaucer's Mead. We were so cold I thought it would help take the chill off.

Mead, the drink of the Vikings, also known as honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It can be flavored with spices, fruit or hops.

You can enjoy Mead two ways, either chilled or heated with mulling spices. How did we enjoy our Mead, you ask? Heated with spices of course. I followed the Maiden Hot-Spiced Mead Recipe attached to the bottle.


Includes 2 Spice bags.
1. Pour 1/2 or full bottle of Chaucer's Mead
     into a medium-sized saucepan.
2. Drop in spice bag(s) (one spice bag for
     half bottle, two spice bags for full bottle)
3. Let the bag(s) steep over medium heat
     for 5-10 mins or until Mead has reached
     the desired spiciness. Do not bring to a boil.
4. Remove spice bag(s) and pour hot-spiced
     Mead into a favorite goblet, mug or glass.

Region: Northern California
Producer: Chaucer's Cellars
Color: Pale gold
Alcohol: 10.5%

Chaucer's Mead is composed of a blend of four types of honey: orange blossom, mountain wildflower, sage and cotton -alfalfa. When heated it has a pleasant aroma but that is about all it has. I prefer the Mead chilled, whereas my sister likes it both heated with mulling spices and chilled.

We give it:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Santa Ynez Wine Tour

The Sisters are Back!

There was a mini hiatus but what better way for a comeback than with a road trip…

We stumbled upon a deal we couldn’t resist on Travelzoo for a chauffeured Wine Tour of Santa Ynez Valley including lunch.

So we headed out to Santa Ynez, California for a day of lip smacking wine tasting.

We were met by our driver Mark from Gold Coast Limousines who picked us up for a 4 to 5 hour wine tour. On this tour we met fellow and future winos Chris, Maggie, Torry and Gina. 

On our way to Rideau we sipped on champagne. Rideau is the only black female-owned winery located in Solvang. This vineyard is known for its New Orleans flair and Rhone varietals.
From Rideau’s Winter Wine Flight list we tasted the following:  2010 Estate Viognier, 2009 Grenache Blanc, 2010 Siempre Albarino, 2009 Sangiovese, 2008 Lagniappe (which we learned means a lil bit extra), 2007 Iris Chateau Duplantier (Gold Medal Winner at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition) and lastly a winos favorite, 2010 Riesling. 

Andrew Murray Vineyard was our second stop located in Los Olivos. AMV specializes in Rhone red and whites. We were greeted by our friendly Sommelier, Tracy who educated and poured us everything from a 2009 Esperance to 2008 Grenache from the Terra Bella Vineyard and more.

We had a picnic lunch at our last and final stop Fess Parkerwhich is a beautiful property located in Los Olivos sitting on over 1500 acres.

This vineyard was a blur to lil sister. The vineyard was founded by the late American film and television actor Fess Elisha Parker Jr. The winery is known for selling coon skin caps which also happens to be the logo reminiscence of his acting days. At Fess Parker winos sampled Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Port.

One day just wasn’t enough for the sisters, so we woke up the next morning and hit up one last tasting room for some sweet wines,Royal Oaks, a winery after our own hearts. For $8 bucks we tasted five wines and took home a souvenir glass. Older sister was in heaven, she tasted the same wine twice. She walked out of there with two bottles of Concord and one bottle of Niagara.

All in all we had a great time, we are already talking about revisiting Santa Ynez Valley, will you be there?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wino Sangria - Labor Day or Whenever!

Sangria is beloved by winos near and far.  The mix of wine and fruit makes for a delightful, refreshing, taste experience.  Not long ago the Winos got together to make sangria for our Grandma, needless to say SHE LOVED IT!  So much so that we had to bottle her up some for later!
Here is a quick sangria recipe that you can make anytime, guaranteed to please all:
Wino Sangria
1 1/2 cups of Shiraz
1 cup of Sweet Red
1 cup of Concord Grape wine
1/2 cup of Triple Sec
Juice one large orange
Slice all fruits in small sections, to add into the sangria and also to garnish the glass as well. Mix all wines and alcohol together in a pitcher.  Squeeze the juice of the orange.  Stir well. 
There you have it...wino sangria.  It's that simple!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Girls Night In ~ Again

Two Fridays ago we had a little wine with friends.  Of course everyday is an occasion for wine, but this was different.  It was "Girls Night In!"  Our Friends Peggy and Milca stopped by to hang out with the winos and we had a blast!

All the ladies brought wine to share and Little Sister Jamee made vegetarian taco salads.  Of course the food and wine was good, but more than anything it was so nice to hang out with the people we love. Good friends are not easy to come by, but we're fortunate - they're not just friends, they're family!

Vegetarian Taco Salad Recipe

2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese (grated)
1 Fresh Jalapeno Pepper (sliced)
1 Can Whole Black Beans (drained)
1 Pack Soyrizo (veggie version of chorizo)
Sliced Black Olives (drained)
1 Small Red Onion (diced)
2 Roma Tomatoes (diced)
Fresh Spinach or Lettuce
Corn Chips
Kraft Catalina Dressing

Heat a medium sized skillet on medium heat.  Add a teaspoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is heated add the Soyrizo.  You just want to heat the Soyrizo, so stir frequently until completely heated through. 
Wash the spinach (or lettuce) and drain.  Chop the onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos and set them aside. Grate the cheese, drain the olives and black beans.  Place the chips in a bowl. Then you can create a little assembly line and everybody can make their own salad. Once you've put your salad together, garnish with corn chips and drizzle the dressing.

Just like've got yourself one delicious taco salad!

Of course our guests are not vegetarians, but they humored us anyway. Actually they all loved the salad and even had seconds (except Big Sister Tredia who is a true carnivore).  

By the end of the night, we were full and saucy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

31 days of German Riesling

I stumbled across something interesting while perusing my emails today.  For the month of July restaurants across the country will be promoting German Riesling!  I don't remember having a German Riesling but Little Sister said we have.  I guess that means we'll have to go out and try it again, just to refresh my memory of course :-)

The Wines of Germany website have compiled a list of restaurants and retailers who are celebrating "The 31 Days of German Riesling," I implore you to check it out.  It seems that a wine bar not far from here is on the list, it just so happens to be a bar that I've had my eye on for a spell - how convenient is that?

If you've ever had a German Riesling or if you're celebrating it for the month of July, we'd love to hear what you think.  Better yet if you haven't had it, go try it, and come back to spill the beans!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July is National Ice Cream Month

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month? President Ronald Regan declared July National Ice Cream month in 1984 and it's been a party every since!

Late Night Snack
Ben & Jerry's introduced five new flavors for the summer:

Late Night Snack 
Fair Goodness Cake
Red Velvet Cake 
Bonnaroo Buzz
What a Cluster

You may be asking yourself "what does this have to do with wine?" Well the answer is PLENTY!  Ice cream comes in many varieties: sorbet, Italian ice, sherbet, and of course the original creamy stuff.

As a matter of fact, you can find plenty of wine ice cream recipes on kidding!  There was a little shop down the street from our house that sold wine sorbets, but I am sad to report that it closed down earlier this year (we're still grieving).  

Since there is no place local to buy it, what's the next best thing...homemade! I found a recipe on Epicurious for Plum and Red Wine Sorbet and it sounds heavenly. Food Network also has a recipe for a Basic Wine Sorbet, you could whip up a batch using your favorite wine.

I am going to recruit the winos' for a Wine Ice Cream mission!  We'll see what we can create, stay tuned...