Wine in a Can For Football Tailgaiting?

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Hi everyone…and Happy #WineWednesday! Today, I’m tasting four canned wines from Right Now—The Alpine Steam White, the Dry Rosé, the Red Blend Number 8, and the Shimmer Slightly Sweet Rosé Bubbly. You can watch to find out all the details, but here is a hint…I was surprised by the quality of all 4, loved the rosé, thought the bubbly tasted like soda, and would bring all 4 to a tailgate!

Questions of the Day:

  1. Have you had any new canned wines that you’ve enjoyed? Do you drink them?
  2. Are you a football fan? Do you drink wine when you’re watching or do you go for beer or something else?
  3. Are there wine gadgets that you’re interested in or that you recommend that you think I should take a look at?

Received as a sample.

Winter Slow-Cooker Beef and Porcini with Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot

Hello Friends,

I have a delicious, easy-to-make slow-cooker recipe that’ll warm your winter and fill your wine glass. I don’t know about you, but I always cook with wine—a splash in the pot, and two in my glass (lol). Okay, seriously, Julie Pedroncelli St. John and husband Ed St. John, of Pedroncelli Winery, are amazing when it comes to food and wine pairings. They knocked this one out of the park! Pedroncelli Winery has been part of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley for over ninety years, so they know what dishes work best with their wines.

Slow-Cooker Beef and Porcini Mushrooms

For this appetizing match, we’re pairing slow-cooker beef and porcini mushrooms with Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot. The wine and recipe are budget-friendly, prep is a cinch, and the dish can fill up a family of four with enough for leftovers. You’ll find that the wine complements, rather than overpowers, the dish very well. The softness and harmony of the Merlot balances the robustness of the pasta and beef. I recommend two bottles of Merlot: one for the recipe and to sip while cooking, and another for dinner. Please check here for the recipe, and see my review of the Merlot and where you can find it below.

Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot 

Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot (SRP $18): Sourced from three distinctive blocks situated on Pedroncelli’s estate vineyard, this pleasing Merlot offers a dark red fruit center, framed by subtle shades of brown spice, vanilla bean, and dried herbs. There’s a faint yet appealing wisp of violet on the back end, which is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. This is a medium-bodied, well-balanced wine, with round mouthfeel and seamless texture. It’s dangerously easy to drink, with no hard edges. Like every wine I’ve had from Pedroncelli Winery, this is a joy to drink and meant for sharing over a meal with family and friends. Region: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California. Other info: ABV 14.2%, aged 12 months in American oak—30% new, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

California Cabernet Sauvignon: Flora Springs Winery, Addendum Wines, and Murrieta’s Well

Hello Friends,

Nearly every day when wine o’clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages around. The world of wine offers endless opportunities to learn and taste new things.

The wines featured in this post (the three Cs) are complex, complete, and compelling Cabernet Sauvignon wines. They are all from California, and from 2015—a vintage largely marked by warmth, drought, and accelerated harvest, which led to lower yields and high-quality fruit. Appealing, fruit-dominant Cabernet Sauvignon wines with big personalities are king of Napa Valley, and deservingly so. However, under-the-radar wine regions like Livermore Valley, situated just east of San Francisco, should not be overlooked—especially for medium- to higher-tier value.

With the holidays quickly approaching, any of the three wines I’ve reviewed below (or all, if they’ve made Santa’s berry good list) are fabulous gifts for the wine lover in your life. They will also shine brightly at holiday dinner parties. For further information and where you can find these delicious California Cabs, please see my tasting notes below.

Flora Springs Winery 2015 Trilogy
Flora Springs Winery 2015 Trilogy (SRP $80): This is one of Napa Valley’s first Bordeaux-style red blends. The creation of Trilogy goes back to 1984 (Van Halen put out a killer album that year, who remembers?). Composed of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 8% Petit Verdot, this wine pours an opaque purple color. It’s richly textured, mouth-coating, and concentrated, boasting aromas and flavors of ripe plum, kirsch liqueur and mocha, with dashes of vanilla-tinged oak and bittersweet dark chocolate. There are firm yet sweet tannins—mostly notable upfront—moderate acidity, and a lasting, fruit-driven finish, quite a pleasure to sip. Think robust dinner, fire pit/fireplace, or solitary sipper with soft music and a good book. Approximately 5,400 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.2%, matured 18 months in 85% French oak, and 15% American oak barrels, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.
Addendum Wines 2015 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Addendum Wines 2015 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $95): This is only the second vintage from the new wine project by Santa Barbara’s Fess Parker Winery, and the winery is off to a great start. Addendum specializes in ultra-premium, small-lot wines from select Napa Valley sites. Their Stagecoach bottling is tight, firm, and full-bodied, yet it manages to remain light on its feet with good underlying acidity. There are flavors of dried currant, blackberry, and olive—both green and black—with nuances of anise, loamy earth, and tea rose. This wine possesses good depth and length, with chewy tannins that gain on the finish. It shows power and finesse, richness and freshness—an excellent cellar candidate that will reward the patient. Only 117 cases of this wine were produced, so get it while the getting is good. Region: Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.9%, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured 24 months in 100% all new French oak barrels, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.
Murrieta’s Well Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon
Murrieta’s Well 2015 Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $58): Murrieta’s Well is a historic property situated in the heart of California’s Livermore Valley. Founded in 1883 by Louis Mel, the estate was purchased by the Wente family in 1990 and resurrected by Phillip Wente. Their specialty is estate blends and sustainably farmed, small-lot wines. Winemaker Robbie Meyer crafted a gem here. Composed of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec, this wine is delicious upon opening (now), yet built to last. It is quite expressive. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, currant, and black berry are joined by dried herbs, cocoa powder, and complex spicy notes. In the mouth it is full-bodied with lovely texture, fine grained tannins, and lifting acidity, ending with a long, polished finish. It’s a wonderful addition to any feast. Approximately 675 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Livermore Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.2%, matured 18 months in 80% new French oak barrels, and 30% second and third use French oak barrels, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.
I’m forever grateful for beautiful sunsets and a rocking glass of wine. Cheers!

The Chardonnay that Leverages the Chalk Hill AVA and Estate

The Chalk Hill Estate Winery benefits from tremendous name recognition based on the winery’s outstanding reputation but also from the surrounding Chalk Hill AVA. This appellation, one of thirteen in Sonoma County, is located between the cooler Russian River appellation to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast. The Chalk Hill AVA is slightly higher with lower soil fertility with the top soil a “distinctive layer of chalk-colored volcanic ash which inspired the name of Chalk Hill, the appellation, and the estate”. Within both the AVA and Estate reside several microclimates with the lower cooler sites more suited for Chardonnay used in the Chalk Hill Estate 2016 Chardonnay ($42). The vines were planted using Vertical Viticulture techniques where the rows were planted to follow the rise of the terrain. Cover crops prevent erosion and the layout allows breezes and sun exposure which translates to acidity and ripeness. The grapes were fermented using native yeasts with frequent lees stirring and aged eleven months in 100% French oak. The result is a very balanced wine with depth and texture from stirring and noticeable butter and spices from the oak treatment. Yet, neither overwhelms the fresh fruit flavor of the Chardonnay and refreshing acidity that boosts the finish. A classic Chardonnay.

Toasted Goat Winery and the History of Frostburg Maryland

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of the National Road – the first major highway in the United States built by the federal government and linking the western territories to east coast cities. Specifically, the 620-mile pike was built between 1811 and 1837 and allowed goods and settlers to move considerable easier between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers. Early in the surveying period, “Meshach Frost built the first house in present-day Frostburg in 1812 (on the present-day the site of St. Michael’s Church and Rectory)” In 1820 the growing town was named Frostburg and the community continued to grow even as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal reached the Cumberland area in the mid 1800s. In fact, the railroads accelerated the local economy by providing transportation for the coal industry in which Meshach Frost also helped develop through the Frostburg Coal Company. And during the Civil War the manufacture of fire brick became a leading industry.

These economic trends continued to the turn of the century when the Hotel Gladstone opened in downtown Frostburg in 1897. Eventually, William Gunter purchased the building, renamed it Hotel Gunter, and installed a jail for prisoners being transferred and a cock-fighting ring in the basement. Other vices continued through prohibition as the basement also operated as a speakeasy.

In much more recent times the hotel was purchased by local Frostburg residents Donny and Kristan Carter and is now the home of Toasted Goat Winery. The couple opened the winery a couple years back in the Arts and Entertainment District and will remain in the district as they move operations to the hotel. The arts are a major influence in the winery’s theme as evident by the label paintings displayed behind the tasting bar. These labels celebrate various aspects of Frostburg such as featuring church steeples, bridges, and rail trains. Donny Carter is the winemaker and produces a range of styles using local and American sourced fruit. On the other hand, Kristan Carter is a home brewer and ensures that the tasting room includes Maryland craft beers via pints and flights. In the future, the couple plans to open a full-service restaurant to cater to both hotel guests and visitors.

During a visit to Frostburg State University (the other FSU), we stopped in for a flight of mostly white wines. The Steeple White ($14.99) was the clear favorite as the Pinot Grigio is fermented to 1% r.s. providing a fruity counter-balance to the excellent acidity. This wine was book-ended by the sweeter Moscato ($18.99) and drier Chardonnay ($18.99). For the reds, our party also enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon laced Steeple Red ($16.99) and the dessert Chocolate Covered Raspberries wine. We also explored the hotel’s basement containing the old jail and relics from the coal mining era.  We look forward to visiting again soon using theCompass Craft Beverage Finder. Cheers.