Showing posts with label Whole Foods Market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whole Foods Market. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Washington Syrah For My Pot Roast

I was shopping for the goods needed for a pot roast when I spied a wine for less than ten bucks on the top shelf at the market. That's unusual placement, so I picked it up and found that it was a Vintage Upper Left Syrah. The grapes for this wine were grown in Washington's Columbia Valley, which encompasses an enormous portion of the state. I figured I could hardly go wrong by using this wine in my slow-cooker roast.

Winemaker Hal Landviogt has made wines for some three decades, so he knows a thing or twenty about it. He is billed as an unpretentious winemaker who likes to make unpretentious wines. Alcohol in this one resides at 14.2% abv and it was on sale for just $9 at Whole Foods Market.

This wine has a deep purple color, very dark. Aromas of blackberries, leather, tar and black pepper dominate on the nose. The palate follows suit with extremely savory notes of pepper, cardamom, anise and allspice to adorn that dark fruit. The medium length finish is tasty and the mouthfeel is full and round. The tannins are firm enough so that I can pair the wine with the pot roast into which it went.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Another Bargain Chardonnay

The Whole Foods Market site shows a variety of wines by Three Wishes - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a blend of Colombard and Pinot Grigio. That last one sounds interesting enough that I wish I had found it when I bought the Chardonnay. Oops, there goes one of my three wishes.

The product page shows, in addition to wine, a grain-free, gluten-free breakfast cereal under the Three Wishes name. I was not so interested in the cereal, but the wine really was pretty good, especially for one that cost only $4. There is not a lot of information out there on Three Wishes. I can tell you that the back label shows it as an "American Chardonnay," which is not something I've ever run across on a wine that is apparently from California. The non-vintage wine runs alcohol at 12.5% abv.

This wine has a golden hue in the glass. It smells quite nice, with Meyer lemon, cantaloupe, minerals and a heavy wash of apricot nectar. The palate is crisp and not as oaky as I would have expected. The effect of the barrel aging is noticeable, but not overdone. The other Three Wishes varieties are in the same price range. If you have to buy lots of bottles for a party or meeting, Three Wishes would seem like a good choice.

Friday, May 26, 2017

South African Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé

Everything's coming up rosé at Whole Foods Markets. It is the time of year when people love to turn to a nice, refreshing pink wine, although that time of year never stops for me.. Whole Foods has a slew of pink wines that are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. This wine is one of several that were offered to me for review. Whole Foods beverage guy Devon Broglie calls this one of the wines from their "rosé garden."

The Mulderbosch winery was started in 1989, and this rosé was introduced a decade later. It was a time when South African rosés were usually a byproduct of red wine production. This one has always been produced as pink, from vine to bottle. It is 100% Coastal region Cabernet Sauvignon, and the winery says that once the grapes are pressed after early picking, "the juice is handled as per Sauvignon Blanc." Alcohol content is restrained at 12.5% abv and it sells for $12 at Whole Foods.

The color of the Mulderbosch rosé is rich, a deep ruby-pink that looks almost like rosado. The nose is just as rich, black cherry and earth wrapped around an herbal note that hits just right. In the mouth, a zippy acidity made me forget this is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Red fruit takes a back seat to herbs and earth. The savory edge is so great, the spice so understated, the greenness just green enough. This is a classy rosé, and for 12 bucks, it should be on your patio well chilled.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rosé Wine - Folie En Provence

Everything’s coming up rosé at Whole Foods Market, where you’ll find plenty of pink wines to liven up your spring and summer. Folie en Provence Rosé is a Côtes de Provence wine from the south of France. The Provence region is pretty much the mothership for pink wine. It’s nearly all they make and virtually the only thing that comes up in France when a rosé is ordered.

"Folie" translates to concepts like madness, craziness, lunacy and folly. Maybe the original vintner had a little trouble at home after announcing “winemaking” as a career. Maybe he had just consumed a white Zinfandel and was temporarily driven insane by sugar. Maybe it was just one of those nutty, Provençal days.

The demand for pink wine in general, and specifically from Provence, has blown up in recent years. Everybody wants rosé, even manly men are going pink with the brosé movement. Provençal rosé, by the way, is always very dry, not sweet, and usually displays remarkable acidity.

In the Folie en Provence, the alcohol is very reasonably restrained at 13% abv and it retails for about 13 dollars.

It's a beautiful shade of pink and smells just as lovely. Cherries, strawberries and watermelons come to mind. The palate displays a fine acidity and light flavors of red fruit, with an herbal touch. A summer salad on the porch would be great with it.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Drink Pink: Meiomi Rosé

Everything’s coming up rosé at Whole Foods Markets, and that's good news for people looking for wines to pair with spring and summer get-togethers. They have a slew of pink wines that are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. Their marketing department offered a sample of a half dozen of their favorites, and I took 'em.

Meiomi Rosé 2016 is from all over California, 48% from Sonoma County, 43% from Monterey County and just nine percent from Santa Barbara County. Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse worked predominantly with Pinot Noir in this inaugural vintage.

The wine is produced in the saignée method, in which the juice is drained away from the skins and fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol is quiet, at 13.2% abv and the bottle retails for $23.

Light salmon in color, the Meiomi Rosé is so full of strawberry aromas my first inclination is to pick it, not drink it. There is a fresh greenness in there, too, along with a twist of orange peel. On the palate, strawberry leads light notes of cherry and currant. An invigorating acidity begs for a grilled calamari salad, or even oysters. The finish is slightly and deliciously tart, and lasts a long time. It’s a little more expensive than most of the rosés at Whole Foods this spring, but it is worth it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Everything's Coming Up Rosé - El Terrano

Everything’s coming up Rosé at Whole Foods Markets, and that's good news for people looking for wines to pair with spring and summer get-togethers. They have a slew of pink wines that are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. Their marketing department offered a sample of a half dozen of their favorites, and I took 'em. Whole Foods beverage guy Devon Broglie calls this Spanish pinkie one of the wines from their "rosé garden."

Garnacha, Spanish for Grenache, are the grapes that make the El Terrano Garnacha Rosado 2016. They are grown in Cariñena, in the Aragon region of northeast Spain. Traditionally, the wines were heavy on the alcohol, but winemakers in the area began to go more for balance a couple of decades ago. Winemaker Ana Becoechea definitely leans that way with this entry at 13% abv. It sells at Whole Foods for about ten dollars.

The Spanish wine has a beautiful copper-pink color. The nose is not exactly overpowering, but offers up some pleasant strawberry and cherry aromas. There's a slight herbal tint, too. On the palate, the medium weight is abetted by an easy acidity. Red fruit flavors ride out front, while a barely chalky minerality makes things a little more complex. It's not a wine to write home about, even though I am doing just that, but it serves well as an afternoon sip or a companion to a salad or sandwich. Or tapas.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Margerum Wine, Whole Foods Market Go To Dogs... And Cats

An event is coming to Santa Barbara that animal lovers will want to put on the calendar.

Pet Adopt-a-Thon & Barbeque at Whole Foods Market, Santa Barbara

Saturday, September 26th 11-2pm

Volunteers from Cold Nose Warm Heart of Goleta and ASAP Cats of Santa Barbara will be on hand with pups and kittens hoping to find humans to rescue, while Margerum Wine Company's David Moorman will be grilling up hot dawgs to benefit cool cats and dogs!

Prizes include dinner at the Wine Cask, Whole Foods Market gift cards and gift baskets, winery and brewery hats, Tshirts and other goodies!

Tickets can be obtained in several ways: 

 $5 CASH ONLY per ticket, 100% of ticket sales will be donated. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, September 12th at the Buzz Hive, inside Whole Foods, Santa Barbara.

 Buy a Dawg to Save a Dog - Purchase one of David’s Dawgs and receive a raffle ticket, too!

 Feed The Homeless - Purchase a large bag of Whole Paws dry dog or cat food ($18.99) or a case of wet cat or dog canned food ($24), receive FIVE raffle tickets. All Whole Paws food will be donated to ASAP & CNWH.

 Drink Up For the Kits & Pups! Attend the beer & wine tasting events, $6 CASH ONLY, raffle ticket included with flight. $5 will be donated to ASAP/CNWH.

Flight times: Friday, 5:30-7:30pm, Saturday 11-2pm

100% of proceeds donated, winners need NOT be present to win!

Brooks Van Wingerden, General Manager at Margerum Wine Company, writes that Doug Margerum and Gina Cook (the wine specialist for Whole Foods) were tasting together a few months ago, not long after Doug had lost his beloved dog, Patches

Margerum and Cook are doing a series of private label wines for Whole Foods. As they were "patching together" a Pinot Noir blended with fruit from some of the best sites in Sta. Rita Hills AVA ( La Encantada Vineyards, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, and Radian Vineyard ), a Merlot blend from the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA and others they bantered about their pets, past and present and thought, "what can we do to help more cats and dogs find furever homes?"

Just like that, the idea to give a donation for each bottle sold from two of these new wines was formed. 

One dollar from every bottle sold of Rapporte (French for "fetch") Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills (retail $34.99) will be donated by Doug Margerum to Cold Noses, Warm Hearts.

Fifty cents from every bottle of Chaton Heureux Cuvee (French for "Cat, Happy Blend") Merlot blend (retail $19.99) will be donated to ASAP Cats. 

Both are volunteer-run rescue groups that work to save cats and dogs destined for euthanasia at the Santa Barbara county shelter.

The labels were designed with pets in mind and both the labels and the wines are stunning.

The wines will be available exclusively at select Whole Foods Markets from SLO to San Diego and at Doug Margerum's tasting rooms in El Paseo – downtown Santa Barbara.

For more information, please call 805-686-8500 or email

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Argentina Via Whole Foods Market: Belgrano Malbec

A recent virtual wine tasting event put on by Whole Foods Markets brought out the wine lovers on social media.  The Twitter-based chat session drew a nice crowd of participants who were sampling some of the bargains offered at the grocery chain.

Several wines were tasted and tweeted about, and the conversation was friendly and animated, as usual with this sort of Twitter tasting.  If you'd like a heads-up when the next Whole Foods event comes to social media, you should follow the Whole Foods wine department on Twitter at @WFMwine.

The Belgrano Argentine Malbec was very popular with the online panel.  On Twitter, @WFMwine noted, "we sell Malbec like crazy. Belgrano is $9, good value. Warm spices, some blueberry, a little smoky note. Like the nose?"  A resounding round of "Yes!" ensued, from others who joined in the event.   @RickGriffin  agreed, tweeting, "Love the mouthfeel and finish of the Belgrano Malbec - GREAT value!"  @estehawk thought the Belgrano was "buttery and earthy with a touch of spice."  @WFMwine  then egged on the crowd a little more: "Belgrano is nice, soft & round. A real crowdpleaser no? goes with anything, burgers, pizza, cold turkey sammie."  @JamesTheWineGuy offered his tasting notes: "Lavender, violets, cassis, dark chocolate, chicory, and baking spices."  The Belgrano Malbec made @lovelemonsfood hungry: "this one makes me want to eat a bowl of spaghetti."

The Belgrano Malbec hits only 13% abv and comes under a synthetic cork.  From grapes grown in the Maipú Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, this wine is a righteous steal at Whole Foods.  It sells there for about $10 and, to my understanding, it's a Whole Foods exclusive.  

The dark color looks quite rich and ruby-red.  Aromas of blueberry, smoke and spice bolt from the glass, leaving a little trail of cedar behind.  The palate is lovely - ripe, red fruit and oak spice are contained in a full and easy mouthfeel with smooth tannins. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Whole Foods Rioja Works For Super Bowl Chip/Dip

If you live near a Whole Foods Market that features a wine department, you have it better than a lot of folks.  Whole Foods holds virtual wine tasting events from time to time, in which you can pick up a bottle of a featured wine at the grocery and join the hashtag stream on Twitter.  I was invited to join one of these Twitter tasting events during the holiday season.  One of the wines featured was the 2012 Leyenda del Castillo Rioja, which goes just as well with a Super Bowl chip'n'dip as it did with a standing rib roast.

The wine is very easy to drink, and it scores a reasonable 13% abv on the alcohol meter.  Pricing is just as reasonable, selling for under $15 per bottle.

Some great wine lovers took to social media to explain how the Leyenda del Castillo Rioja impressed them.  @WFMWine tweeted, "loving the nose here, a bit of dust, cherries, what you'd expect of Rioja."  @NaturalMerchant commented, "Love a good Tempranillo - Rioja Rocks."  I'd have to agree with that.  @Bepkoboy chipped in that "This Leyenda del Castillo Rioja definitely goes well with rosemary roasted chicken.  I know for a fact!"  From @RickGriffin, "LOVE the balance of the Leyenda del Castillo Rioja - fruit & earth! Unbelievable value."

Someone tweeted that the Rioja disappeared so quickly that a leaky glass was feared.  @RickGriffin fired back, "I’m not taking chances - drinking the Leyenda del Castillo Rioja right out of the bottle."  The "Metaphor of the Day" award went to @EsteHawk, who called this Rioja  "a ride downhill on a smooth road in a Cadillac you can't get rid of for nostalgic reasons."  Couldn't have tweeted it better myself.

This Rioja doesn't overwhelm, but plays its part very well.  Like the good, solid drummer who lacks flash and sizzle - but always keeps the beat and has a nice fill to throw in - it's what you would call "dependable."  No one is falling off the couch in a state of disbelief - it's no Keith Moon - but no one is pouring it down the drain, either.

The nose of this wine puts forth some nice cherry aromas cloaked in cigar tobacco, leather and white pepper.  The palate displays great fruit and a savory side that tries to stay out of the way, but can't.  The acidity is as fresh as a five a.m. donut and the tannins lay back a bit.  A finish that does not call it quits too early caps this quaff with considerable class.  Pair it with manchego cheese or a pepper steak and you will be quite happy.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Whole Foods Wines: H&G Priorat 2008

H&G Priorat 2008 was featured by Whole Foods Markets during the holidays as one of their spotlight wines for the 2014 holiday season.  They had also featured it the previous year, and there is good reason they had repeated it.  It's very good.

The Spanish wine region of Priorat is in the northeastern part of the country.  Priorat is known for its black slate and quartz soils, a rich terroir of volcanic origin.  Garnacha is the main grape there, and Grenache - as we call it in other parts of the globe - is always a great choice for pairing with food.  Alcohol is fairly high, at 14.2% abv, and the wine retails for $14 at Whole Foods.  H&G Wine is a California-based winery which produces wine from various parts of the world, Spain included.

Rich and dark in the glass, the wine sports a savory nose, displaying the minerals of the region.  Tobacco store, cigar smoke, nutmeg, clove and blackberries mingle in a brooding mix.  The palate shows black fruit framed in a host of savory spice sensations. Oak is present, but it plays nicely in the earthy scenario.  The aromas and flavors are lively and dark - it's a very complex wine which deserves to be savored over a lingering sip session, or with a hearty meal.  Beef, stew and barbecue are all good pairings for it.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Whole Foods Wines: Pizzolato Organic Pinot Grigio

One of the wines showcased during the holidays by Whole Foods Markets is a lighthearted and delicate Pinot Grigio by Italian producer Pizzolato.

I don't drink a lot of Pinot Grigio, but when I do, I drink Italian Pinot Grigio.  This one, from the Venezia IGT, is an organic wine from the hillsides north of Treviso.  It is vinified off the skins in stainless steel, with only indigenous yeasts used.  The importers say it is not only organic, but also suitable for vegans.  At just 12% abv, it's a lightweight wine that won't provide too much alcoholic intrusion to a light lunch or seafood dish.

Whole Foods recommends a pairing with such as, "delicate seafood, shellfish, lemon vinaigrette and citrus fruit salad."  I'll go along with that.  I'll also look at a nice, light cheese plate as a good match.

On Twitter, @RickGriffin was "Loving the Pizzolato Pinot Grigio - nice acidity - bring on the seafood!"  He commented upon "a hint of mint with apples, peach & citrus."  @Bepkoboy tweeted succinctly, "Absolutely lovely!"  @LisaBellMusic thought "The wine is refreshing and light; fruity," while @jenmoreno said she was "Glad we've got some oysters to go with it."  Apparently reading the proceedings without a bottle of her own, @gracepap realized, "I need to buy that Pinot Grigio."

The Pizzolato Pinot Grigio struck me as pleasant, with a pale straw color in the glass and an aromatic nose of flowers, green apples and a hint of herbs, just a slight touch.  The palate holds some very nice acidity, with flavors of pear, apple and a hint of minerals defining the taste profile. Crisp and balanced, this is a wine that will certainly make Pinot Grigio lovers happy - maybe even win a few converts.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Zealand Wine: Kim Crawford Pinot Gris

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris was spotlighted as one of the wines from New Zealand featured in the fall of 2014 at Whole Foods Market.  The grocery’s wine folks sponsored a virtual tasting event for these wines, and I received and invitation to participate, along with samples of the wines.

The winery had an inauspicious beginning, in Kim and Erica Crawford’s spare room in 1996.  Recognition of their reputation followed quickly and today they are reported to be the top-selling New Zealand producer in the U.S.

Kim Crawford’s winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst, says on the winery website, "Being a winemaker allows me to combine creativity and science, which I love."  He has developed an uncluttered wine style which lets him capture the essence of the fruit with which he works.

On social media, @davidnzwineusa commented that,  "@nzwine = diversity, quality, value. Balance, great with food."  @WineHarlots tweeted, "Light and lively, the @kimcrawfordwine Pinot Gris $16 yearns for ceviche."  Which reminds, me - so do I.  @JamesTheWineGuy liked the "green citrus, fig, sesame, white flowers, and sesame."

The Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2013 utilizes grapes sourced mainly from the Wairau and Awatere sub-regions of Marlborough, New Zealand.  They describe the winemaking process in a nutshell: "After harvest, the grapes were crushed and direct pressed with minimal skin contact. The clarified juice was then cool fermented to optimise varietal expression, flavour, and intensity. There was no wood and minimal skin contact. We used five different yeasts to ensure that we profiled the fruit and kept the fresh acidity."

The wine has a 13% abv alcohol number, so the one-glass-only drinker won’t have to worry about getting tipsy at lunch.  It comes under a screw cap and the retail price on the Pinot Gris is $17 at Whole Foods.

Peach and pear juice - ripe and running down the forearm - adorn both the nose and the palate of this lively Pinot Gris.  The aromas are full and rich, while the mouthfeel is bright and zippy, with admirable acidity and a light touch of citrus minerality on the lengthy finish.   It sips great, and will serve as a great aperitif. It also marries quite well with food.  We had ours with takeout vegan cashew curry, some pineapple fried rice and my wife's roasted carrots and parsnips.  It was delicious.  It’s also good with Brussells sprouts and goat cheese.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Wines Of New Zealand at Whole Foods

In the recent Twitter tasting for the New Zealand wines, which were fall features at Whole Foods Markets, there was lively discussion of The Red Blend, from Villa Maria.

@WFMWine hit us with some background info: "Villa Maria The Red Blend.used to be called cab-merlot, new name, new vintage. Nice label and package."   One WFM location had  guests tasting on hand: "The Villa Maria red blend was also popular with many guests at tonight's tasting."  @WFMSantaFe tweeted, "New Zealand - where the reds are sassy and the whites are grassy!"   They then got down to business by noting, "Best paired with a ribeye! Villa Maria Red Blend, 2013 vintage #cutsthefat."

Sir George Fistonich founded Villa Maria Estate in Auckland in 1961, starting with a one-acre vineyard.   An innovator, he instituted the practice of quality-based pricing for grapes in New Zealand, hired viticulturists and made Villa Maria cork-free beginning with the 2002 vintage.  Sir George received New Zealand’s first knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 2009 for his importance in the country’s wine industry.

Villa Maria has been a member of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand since the organization’s birth in 1995.  The company has vineyards in Aukland, Gisborne, Marlborough and Hawkes Bay, which is the source for The Red Blend.  The Hawkes Bay region is on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.  It’s a dry, temperate climate that gets hot summers and cool winters.

Villa Maria's The Red Blend is a mix of Bordeaux grape varieties - Merlot-heavy at 75%.  14% of the makeup is Cabernet Sauvignon, while Malbec takes up 7% and 4% goes to Cabernet Franc.  The alcohol is a fair 13% abv and it looks to have a fairly medium intensity of dark red coloring.  It is bottled under Villa Maria’s “Private Bin” label.

The Red Blend’s nose brings the Bordeaux, with all the blackberry, cassis and oak spice you can stand.  Clove, cedar and nutmeg are prominent, with undercurrents of vanilla, cinnamon and a good whiff of Merlot smoke.  The palate echoes those sentiments, for the most part.  It's dark, without getting all primeval on us.  It doesn't brood, it just furrows it's brow a bit.

The tannins are lively enough to mate this wine with a variety of red meats, the fattier the better.  It goes great with soft cheeses, too.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Holiday Wines: Whole Foods Market

Another holiday season is upon us, and the fine folks at Whole Foods Markets have another selection of wines that are perfect for the holidays. Not only are they holiday-ready, but they are on the shelves at wine-equipped Whole Foods stores.  As usual, they are priced so you can splurge a little on the turkey, or the ham, or the standing rib roast, or whatever you have in mind to highlight your holiday feast.

Ashley Hawkins, a representative of Whole Foods Markets, says this year's WFM holiday picks, "showcase a wide variety of wines from a perfect-for-turkey-and-ham silky Sonoma County Pinot Noir to a French Chardonnay-Viognier with a round, fruity softness that pairs well with yams and cranberry."

The wines will be tasted in a pair of virtual tasting events set for Twitter on the dates you see below, along with the wines to be tweeted up during the respective tastings.  I'll be writing about the wines separately, but you can get an idea of what to expect with the descriptions from Whole Foods, shown below, along with their favorite food pairing for each.  “*” denotes a wine which is available only at Whole Foods Markets.

Pick up a bottle or two and join the social media crowd for both of these Twitter tastings.  Follow along in the hashtag #WFMWine to get the full effect of the fun that can be found while tasting and tweeting.

Thursday November 13, 2014, 7-8 CT
Pizzolato Organic Pinot Grigio

"Stone fruit aromas give way to an enticing minerality and vibrant acidity in this organically grown Italian white.
Pairings: Oro del Tiempe Piave Vecchio, delicate seafood, shellfish, lemon vinaigrette, citrus fruit salad"

* Sea Pines Russian River Chardonnay

"Subtle aromas belie big flavors of green apple, lemon and vanilla bean. A pleasant richness hints at the use of just the right amount of oak for a lovely balance.
Pairings: Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, poached turbot, Cornish hens, chowders, lobster bisque, cream sauces."

* Bodegas Belgrano Malbec

"With aromas of warm spices and stewed blueberry flavors that mingle with woodsy hints of smoke, this textbook Argentine malbec has a roundness that makes for an easy drinking classic.
Pairings: Hennings Cranberry Orange."

* Leyenda del Castillo Rioja

"Mineral, earthy aromas are found in this deep garnet Spanish red. With bright, sunny fruit flavors like ripe cherries, this Rioja has a lingering, well-balanced finish.
Pairings: Mitica Mahon, grilled meats, pork chops, eggplant marinara, charred steaks."

Thursday December 4, 2014, 7-8 CT
* Globerati Sauvignon Blanc

"From the Central Valley of Chile, this bright, fresh white has aromas of lemon and grapefruit with a hint of honeysuckle, and mineral notes are balanced with a green apple acidity.
Pairings: Mitica Campo de Montalban, Manhattan clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, mussels, sliced pears."

* Bubo Cabernet Sauvignon

"Surprisingly fruity, pleasant and approachable with a touch of green pepper aroma, this red has flavors of blackberries and ripe plums that accentuate the juiciness of this easy drinking wine.
Pairings: Ford Farms Seaside Cheddar, cranberry turkey sandwiches, veggie lasagna, cassoulet, beef enchiladas."

* Charles and Charles CL Merlot Red Blend

"There is an attractive baked biscuit aroma in this inky, hearty red. Black and blue fruits come forward and then recede into a rich, elegant, full-bodied finish.
Pairings: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, steak and Guinness pie, twice baked potatoes, buttery pastry crusts."

* H&G Priorat

"Earthy, herbaceous aromas in this brick red wine lead to a refined minerality and complex dark fruit flavors. The terroir of Priorat, Spain proudly shows in the glass.
Pairings: Guilloteau Fromager d’Affinois, barbecue, hearty veggie stews, Brunswick stew, grilled ribeye."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whole Foods Market: NZ Grove Mill Pinot Noir

Whole Foods Market makes it easy to be an adventurous wine lover.  They make it pretty affordable, too.  The popular grocery chain is shining the autumn spotlight on the wines of New Zealand, which offer a lot more than just Sauvignon Blanc.

Two tasting events on social media have featured New Zealand Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and even a sparkling wine.  You can access the Twitter conversation by searching the hashtag #WFMWine.

Grove Mill Pinot Noir 2012

The Grove Mill Winery 2012 Pinot Noir is very manly.  It's the Chuck Norris of Pinot Noir.  It could have been called Chuck Noirris.  If you stick out your pinkie while drinking it, that finger will be dislocated.  I've heard that when Chuck Norris makes wine, the grapes crush themselves.  I can't vouch for that, but I won't argue the point, either.  Chuck Norris doesn't get drunk from wine, the wine gets drunk from him.

Located in the Wairau Valley of the Marlborough region, at the top of New Zealand's South Island, Grove Mill is sustainable and ecologically committed.  They even have a wetland area next to their vineyard, which is home to the Southern Bell Frog.  Their masculine Pinot Noir hits only 13% abv and sells for a reasonable $20 at Whole Foods.

This Pinot is dark ruby red and has aromas to match.  Dark raspberry is layered with sage, clove and forest floor.  On the palate, black cherry cola meets a tart handful of raspberries over a cup of black coffee.  Herb and spice linger on the finish, rounding out a spectacle that is ready for the holiday table.

On Twitter, @WFMWine commented on the $20 price point: "We think Grove Mill is quite a wine for the $."  I agree.  @WineHarlots tweeted that it was "a little heavy on the oak, pairing with a grilled lamb chop might balance it."  @JamesTheWineGuy tasted it differently: "gorgeous nose! Rich yet balanced; a beautiful wine - low ABV 13%."

Whole Foods recommends pairing the Grove Mill Pinot with charcuterie, goat cheese, pork loin or roasted chicken.  They have a recipe for that chicken on their website.  I'll take mine with turkey, both white meat and dark.  Pass the cranberry sauce, please.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whole Foods Market: NZ Oyster Bay Chardonnay

Whole Foods Market has another social media get-together planned to spotlight their New Zealand wines.  The Twitter tasting event is set for Thursday October 9, 2014 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. CT.

To participate in the virtual tasting event, get the wines at a Whole Foods Market near you, take them home, log onto Twitter and stay ready with the hashtag: #WFMwine.  Using the hashtag in your tweets will channel your comments into the stream with everyone else's.  To follow along, set up a search for #WFMwine and save it.  It's very easy to keep in the flow that way.

Here are the wines which are set to be the topic of the October 9th Twitter tasting:
Sophora Sparkling Cuvée
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris
Grove Mill Pinot Noir

A previous event featured these wines:

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc
Oyster Bay Chardonnay
Villa Maria The Red Blend

All the wines are available in the wine department at Whole Foods Market.  Get yours, get set and get ready to tweet about what's in your glass.

Oyster Bay's stated winemaking philosophy is to produce "elegant and assertive wines with glorious fruit flavours."  A noble objective, sure, and one on which they deliver.  The real calling card of their wines, however, is their monumental minerality.  Their Sauvignon Blanc is well known and loved, and found on restaurant wine lists everywhere.  It is laden with enough minerals to form a quarry.  The mineral-driven fruit of their Chardonnay takes the same path.

The Chardonnay grapes used to make this wine grow in the Marlborough region, on the northeastern tip of New Zealand's South Island - in vineyards located in the Wairau Valley and the Awatere Valley.  The Whole Foods wine department calls this a "sleek, well- balanced white" with a "whisper of oak."   Both French oak barrels and steel tanks were used for fermentation, with an additional six months of aging in oak.  No malolactic fermentation was employed, so it is as crisp as can be.  Alcohol is restrained, at 13.5% abv and it retails for $14 at Whole Foods.

This New Zealand Chardonnay shows off a pale green tint, with a slight frizzante - bubbles cling to the sides of the glass.  The nose screams minerals, along with citrus and apple aromas. On the palate, a strong citrus flavor and mineral tartness marries perfectly with the bracing acidity.

The Wine Guys at WFM say to pair it with Gruyère cheese, fish or squash with caramelized onions or onion soup.  I say, that sounds great - but try it with some hummus and pistachios for a great snack.

The Whole Foods Wine Guys - @WFMWine - opened the comments on this wine with "Oyster Bay Chard. Love this wine, drank many a bottle visiting a few years back. We Americans love Oyster Bay winery."  @AIRNZUSA tweeted, "We're definitely picking up the lemon aroma in this one!"  @davidnzwineusa admitted, "drink this wine often at home. Classy balanced and a gr8t value to boot."  @vespaspeed1 noted, "tastes like summer and good for any occasion."  @WFMSantaFe had an interesting question from a customer: "Do you have half bottles of the Oyster Bay? If I had a whole bottle I'd drink it all!"  Get the whole bottle and be proud of your restraint.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whole Foods Shows Off New Zealand Wines: Wairau River

Whole Foods Market is celebrating wines from New Zealand this fall, and they are taking to social media to alert the wine-loving public.  There is a virtual tasting event set - one occurred in mid-September - for Thursday October 9, 2014 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. CT.

To participate in a virtual tasting event, get the wines at a Whole Foods Market near you, take them home, log onto Twitter and stay ready with the hashtag: #WFMwine.  Using the hashtag in your tweets will channel your comments into the stream with everyone else's.  We always have so much fun that way!  To follow along, set up a search for #WFMwine and save it.  It's very easy to keep in the flow that way.

One of the wines featured in the September event was the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc 2013.

Wairau River Family Estate Wines is one of the largest independent wine producers in Marlborough, on New Zealand's South Island.  It has been a family operation since Phil and Chris Rose got the kegs rolling in 1978.  The Rose family has enough members to start a small town, and Sauvignon Blanc is their flagship wine.  They also produce Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc grew on some of the oldest vines on the Wairau River estate, planted in 1983.  The alcohol is a very moderate 13% abv and it retails at Whole Foods for  $17.  The winemaker notes that it does not have to be consumed immediately - it will cellar well for two to three years.

This is real New World Sauvignon Blanc, with a grassy, grapefruity overlay on the nose that allows aromas of pineapple and lemon-lime to come forward.  In a word, sensational.  The sip does not disappoint, as the palate shows extremely bright acidity and a fresh-as-a-daisy mouthfeel.  Clean and crisp all the way to the finish, flavors of green apples and grapefruits get a tropical twist.  As it happens so often with this variety, a bit of springtime escapes when you unscrew the cap.

Whole Foods advises pairing this with seafood enchiladas - which sounds really good - and fennel salad.  On the label, the winery suggests that it is "best savored with high-jinks and convivial company."  Any type of seafood will swim up the Wairau River for this Sauvignon Blanc.

On Twitter, @WholeFoods kicked things off with an invitation to "follow our wine experts @WFMWine... They'll be sharing all sorts of knowledge!"  @WFMWine - the chain’s wine guys - had a little fun with the notion that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc smells… well, different. "You guys like this wine? not 2 much cat pee, sometimes overwhelms the nose.this one doesn't at all.u guys smell much pee?"

Once the tasting got started, @craigabarrett opened the discussion of the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc with, "Effervescent nose. Strong green apple jolly rancher notes. Medium + body," and we were off to the races.  Many Whole Foods stores across the country were participating by pouring for shoppers. @WFM_Louisiana noted, "Broad St. guests are describing the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc as "tart" and "heart warming."  @kuqofywukuqo answered a Tweeted question: "What do you think of the Wairau River? We love it!"  @MomsToolbox tweeted, "Wow! Love the grapefruit & green apple in this zesty Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc!"

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Going Italian At Whole Foods - What Did You Tweet?

During March and April, Whole Foods Market has celebrated wines from Italy.  Eight lovely wines from some of Italy’s notable winemakers are offered at great prices - all under $16.  From light, crisp Pinot Grigio from Veneto to earthy, fruit forward Sangiovese from Tuscany, you can taste your way through Italy with recipes and cheese pairings from Whole Foods Market.  You can also see my articles on these wines here.

Along the way, two virtual tasting events on Twitter have brought the wines forth in 140 characters or less.  Below is the list of Whole Foods Market’s featured Italian wines discussed on the most recent Twitter Tasting, along with some choice comments from those who took part.  You can access the stream at the hashtag #WFMWine and see how much fun we had.

Presto Prosecco

Describing the aroma of this wine, @dbrogues commented that it was "like the center of a green apple."

Price was a big attraction on all these wines, but particularly the Prosecco.  From @WineFoodTravel, "Loving the Presto Prosecco. It's a slice of heaven! Crisp apple. What's the price on this?"  Just $11, by the way.

@DeborahGrossman tweeted, "for my upcoming birthday, I'll stock up on Presto Prosecco to kick off the festivities, yes?! #WFMWine Virtual party now!"

Caposaldo Pinot Grigio

@winefashionista chimed in with favorable notes on this one.  "I love the Pinot Grigio - and so does my husband! Nice balance of acid and fruit you could sip this wine all summer!"

Another fan of the P.G., @JamesTheWineGuy, is always good for some tasting notes.  "Capolsado Veneto Pinot Grigio - crisp, nicely acidic; notes of yellow citrus zest and peel, sunflower seeds, mineral & sweet fennel."

Monrosso Chianti

@MarinelliSauce tweeted, "Chianti is so versatile. the favorite red wine of Germany FYI. their buying habits drive the bulk Chianti market," to which @WineHarlots replied, "I agree. Chianti, to me, is a 'no-brainer wine.' Easy to drink and goes well with summer cuisine."

@WholeFoods offered a recipe for pairing purposes, "Looking for a nice meal to have with this Chianti? Try PUTTANESCA PASTA:"  Many agreed by retweeting the comment.  Speaking of sharing, @dbrogues was in a generous mood.  "My roommates are trying the wines with me, we're all loving this!"

Verrazzano Rosso

Some tweeters liked the lighter body on this wine.  @Liz4Aker wrote, "This is a really mellow chianti, was expecting a fuller red. Not disappointed."

@RickGriffin liked the price.  "The Verrazzano Rosso is a great value. Surprised it’s only $16."

Getting a nation full of wine lovers together on Twitter gets a bit noisy.  @takeabiteblog noted, "Awesome! #wfmwine is number 2 on the trending list :)"

In a virtual tasting event, there are likely to be as many comedians as wine lovers.  From @WineFoodTravel: "spillage?! Lick it off the table or suck it out of the carpet. Don’t let good wine go to waste:)"

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Going Italian At Whole Foods: Presto Prosecco

Attention Whole Foods shoppers - through April, Whole Foods Market throws the WFM spotlight on Italian wines at great prices.  The grocery chain is also hosting a pair of virtual tasting events to help spread the word about their great Italian value wines.  You can get the details on the wines and the April 10th virtual tasting event on Twitter here.

You can search the hashtag #WFMWine on Twitter to see how much fun we all had on the previous virtual wine tasting on March 13th.  We hope you can join us on Twitter on April 10th!

Today we sample one of the wines to be featured on the April tasting event.

Twitter Tastings

Thursday March 13, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:

Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi 
Ruffino Orvieto Classico
Gran Passione Rosso
Donnafugata Sedàra

Thursday April 10, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:

Presto Prosecco
Caposaldo Pinot Grigio
Monrosso Chianti
Verrazzano Rosso

Presto Prosecco $10.99

Treviso is quite a city.  The Venetian town is not only the birthplace of Prosecco, the Ialian sparkling wine, but it also gave us tiramisu.  That's a legacy if I ever saw one.

Prosecco - made from the Glera grape - was first written about in the 16th century, so I don't know how much I can add to the knowledge base here.  It was greatly admired by Pliny the Elder, way back when he was known simply as Pliny.  He knew the wine as Pucinum, preceding its name change.

Prosecco is Italian sparkling wine.  It is made in a different way than Champagne and other sparklers, which undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle.  Lacking this, there is an accent on fruit and minerals, with no yeasty element found in methode champagnoise wines.  It's Champagne without the serious.  This fun bubbly carries an 11% alcohol number and a price tag of $10.99 at Whole Foods.

The Presto Prosecco is lightly tinted, but shows a delightful nose of flowers, green apples and limes.  There is a green undertone to the aromas that is very fresh, like the smell of a broken green twig.  Flavors fall into line similarly, with apples and citrus fronting the display.  The acidity is a laser beam and the finish is light and crisp.  The fizziness dissipates quickly, it stays festive long enough for a toast to a beautiful spring day.

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