A wine to watch

Sometimes there is a winery you need keep an eye on. Meaning, get a bottle or case now, because it’s about to become so popular prices will sky rocket in about 5 years (if you will even be able to get their wine in 5 years). In Washington, we have a wine just like that. A winery whose wine Seattle Magazine has rated “Red Wine of the Year”.  A winery which has received Wine Advocate scores of 90 points or higher on all wines. This is Avennia (a Roman name for the city of Avignon- the heart of Old World wine making).

Avennia

According to Seattle Magazine (August, 2013) “Avennia hopes to make Old World -style with a New World Energy and sense of place.” Marty Taucher (business/marketing side) and Chris Peterson (winemaker) moved into this Avennia adventure together; deciding to make wine from only the highest quality fruit available in Washington. Winemaker/partner Chris Peterson spent 7 years perfecting his wine making skills at DeLille Cellars (out of WA as well). Before that, he was traveling the world and teaching about wine. He knows the industry and knows the fruit (and who to source his fruit from). Seattle Magazine touted him as WineMaker to watch. A huge accolade.

As of now, they make a handful of wines. I am certain that will change in the future. So far their tasty line-up includes:

2012 Oliane – 100% Sauvignon Blanc – Just released this past September ($25.00)

2011 Justine – 46% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 24% Syrah ($38.00) – Just released this past September as well

2011 Arnaut – 100% Boushey Vineyard Syrah ($48.00)

2010 Gravura– 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc ($35.00) – **Vintage is currently sold out

2010 Sestina – 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc ($50.00) **Vintage is currently sold out

Avennia wines can be purchased through their website (if you order through their website,that can get you in the door for special releases). http://www.avennia.com/

However, you should be able to find their wines in most wine shops through the Pacific Northwest. I know The Grape Choice, in Kirkland, is flying through this wine.  They may have a couple bottles left of the Sestina and Gravura which is sold out online (unless I get to them first!).  Avennia is slowly becoming a “cult” like wine. You are hooked at first sip.

With the holidays fast approaching, I am certain most of you have a “wine snob’ on your Christmas list. These wines will definitely impress those “snobs.” Although, you may find yourself not letting the bottle go.. Avennia is a keeper.

Cheers!!!

http://www.avennia.com/

http://thegrapechoice.com/

http://www.seattlemag.com/

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What do you pair with a Chocolate Chip Cookie??

cookie and wineI had my final Food and Wine pairing class. I had to pair a food and wine. This is what I came up with…

Cooking is not my specialty. However if there is one thing I can do, it is bake chocolate chip cookies. I was curious as to what wine would pair with a chocolate chip cookie (Port, Muscat, etc), and after class and reading I made a pairing decision. For my wine-food pairing analysis I decided to pair my favorite baked good with a Moscato d’Asti. This is a Cascinetta Vietti 2012, Moscato d’Asti from Piemonte, Italy. I purchased the wine at The Grape Choice in Kirkland, WA for $13.99.

I am typically not fan of Moscato d’Asti. I find the sweetness of the wine overpowering by itself. With a chocolate chip cookie however, I figured it would be a balanced/complementary match since the wine is sweeter than the cookie (but both still sweet). A cookie can be matched with just about any dessert wine or sparkling. Sparkling sounded fun for this analysis and I wanted to give this wine another try. This is what led me to this particular pairing.

Sensory evaluation: There was a peach, slight grapefruit and rose on the nose of the Moscato d’Asti. It is yellow in color and slightly effervescent. There is only 5.5% alcohol and I would consider this a sweet wine (sugary, full, residual sugar and pleasant taste).
Upon tasting, I noticed the taste of residual sugar along with hints of peach and apricot. The wine had some acidity and good in balance. For me it was too sweet by itself, however when paired with the cookie, the sweetness level was masked by the cookie. The taste of the cookie wasn’t diminished and either was the flavor of the wine, but the feeling of sugar coating my mouth was reduced. It was almost like having milk with a cookie, the way it cleansed my palate. I thought this was an amusing pairing and would happy to serve this as a dessert to friends over for dinner or patrons in a restaurant

Time for Bubbles

Bubbles, Champagne, Sparking Wine, Prosecco, Cava, etc. It doesn’t matter what your favorite is or what you call it…. just call it often. Even though I am strategically posting this blog this for the upcoming “Hallmark Holiday” (or what some people call it: Valentine’s day), I think that any time is bubble time. I always keep a bottle or two around for any occasion. Even if it’s a I- made- it- through- the- day occasion. It’s always a good idea to keep bubbles on hand. You never know when a glass will call your name…..

It has been a while since I have talked about bubbles, so I thought I would up-date you on a couple of my new favorites. I am not going to get into the differences between Champagne, Sparkling wine, Prosecco and Cava – because if you go back to Sept 2010 on A Wine Journey, you will find detailed descriptions. This is just a quick guide on two amazing bubbles to pick up for the Hallmark Holiday or (if you are me) any day of the week .One is a splurge and another is a mid-priced wine.

Tonights Tasting:

Pierre Peters Champagne Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru

$54.99, The Grape Choice, Kirkland WA www.thegrapechoice.com

This growers champagne knows how to make good champagne. Pierre Peters has been making delicious bubbles since 1919 – and since then has been killing it with awards in France and the US. This wine is no disappointment. It’s made from Chardonnay grapes and is crisp, dry and dances on your tongue. It has the flavors of apples, apricots and minerals. It’s an intense and expressive Champagne.  At a growers champagne tasting, it was my favorite of the night. It may be a challenge to find, but if you call Perry at The Grape Choice (425-827-7551) in Kirkland, he will be able to find it for you! It’s worth the hunt and the price.. I guarantee you will love it.

Pierre Peter Champagne

Pierre Peters Champagne

Domaine Carneros by Taittinger – Napa Valley, CA

$27.00 www.domainecarneros.com

For a more reasonable treat, Domaine Carneros Brut is a such that…a delticable treat. I tend towards French Champagne’s and Cava’s, but this US sparkling wine is on my top 10 favorite bubbles list. It has crisp, mineral and citrus flavors that lingers in your mouth. It’s a classic sparkling wine made from both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. This wine can be found easier then Pierre Peters. I have seen it at most local wine shops, Whole Foods and of course, its website. I belong to the Domaine Carneros wine club and have not been disappointed in any wine that I have received.

Domaine Carneros

Domaine Carneros

Whether it’s Valentines day or a Tuesday, it’s always a good day for bubbles!! Pop a bottle open and remember to “Keep Calm and Drink Champagne.” Cheers!

Where is the best place to buy wine?

This is a question I am asked often. Where is the best place to purchase wine? This is a hard question to answer, since there are so many ways to get your hands on a great bottle of wine. I have my favorites, which I am sure you are sick of hearing me talk about, but it is hard for me to answer that question for anyone else. It depends. Where do you live? How far are you willing to commute for a bottle of wine, how much do you want to spend, are you ok buying wine along with your gas, etc.? The list of questions could go on for hours. So, I figured maybe I should do a little research and compile a list for you.

This is an intriguing topic for me to also talk about, since I was close to purchasing a wine shop around 6 months ago. I wanted to open a shop where my fellow novices were comfortable coming into a non, pretentious store where they wouldn’t get eye rolls for asking where the white zin is (although, there would be no white zin, I would point them into another direction). I was so excited about the possibility of opening a wine shop for people like me in the world – those who want a good bottle of wine, at an inexpensive price – without getting laughed at! Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be at this point in time.

I am sorry to say but this list does discriminate against those living outside Washington. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but I am not sure (besides the obvious grocery stores, Costco’s and BevMo’s) where the best wine shops are in your neck of the woods. I would love it you made comments to let me (and my fellow wine novices) know! For those living in the great state of Washington, below is a list of wine shops I have frequented or heard about through fellow novices.  I want to make sure I lead you in a direction of discovering fine wines. I am in NO WAY paid by or asked to promote these businesses. This list is made up solely on my opinion, which I at least regard highly. If I have missed some special shop (because it is difficult for me to make it to every shop in WA), please let me know. I would love to have a long list overflowing of great wine shops and wine buys.

1.) West Seattle Cellars, West Seattle

www.westseattlecellars.com

Ok, I know you are sick of me always talking about WS cellars, but I cannot help it. Tom and Jan are the most helpful people in the business. They will bend over backwards to get you that special wine. And how can you pass up their $10 and under bins of wines OR their amazing Consumer Wine club where for $100/month you get 12 wines… all personally picked for you. To top all that off, they offer weekly wine tastings (free) and classes (not free, but around $25). I literally drive from my North Seattle home to their shop off California Ave, because they are worth it.

2.) Greenlake Wines/Wine Outlet, Seattle area

www.greenlakewines.com

The Wine Outlet has been in SODO and lower Queen Anne for ages, but they recently opened up Greenlake Wines and Wine Bar. I met up with some girlfriends at GL Wines one night and was pleased with the wine’s by the glass (and flights). They also have some very yummy small plates to accompany the wines. The shop is small and intimate, but when I went back on my mission to find a Spanish wine under $10, they were able to accommodate. Richard, the owner, was incredibly sweet, knowledgable and quick to point out his other shops had a larger selection.

3.) Costco, throughout the good ol USA

Costco is everything that is wrong with America, in my humble opinion. I cannot stand the place. Everything in bulk, bright neon lights burning you,  promoting overeating and overspending. I am not trying to rag on Costco, or those who love it. It has its place in the world. My blog isn’t to complain things I don’t like (that is why I have a husband). However, I do give Costco a little credit, they have a great wine selection. And they do a nice job stocking the shelves with local wines. If you live in an area with no wine shop and need a decent wine, wear your comfy shoes, brave the crowds and check out Costco (make sure you go hungry, they do a good job feeding you with free samples).

4.) Whole Foods, various US locations

www.wholefoods.com

Ok, I know, whole paycheck… but get this? Not with their wines. Holy moly. They have a fantastic wine selection, wonderful help and great prices. I even had an employee offer to help me find a wine, with a screaming toddler. Now, that takes patience (and why I needed that bottle of wine). The only downside I have heard about Whole Foods, from a wine maker over in Eastern WA, is that it is difficult for small, local wine makers to get their wines on the shelves. Beyond that, from a consumers viewpoint, I very much appreciate their selections of wines.

5.) The Grape Choice, Kirkland WA

http://www.thegrapechoice.com/

This shop is more nostalgic for me than anything. I have never purchased a wine from The Grape Choice. My parents frequented their shop and my dad even held a few of his company Christmas parties at The Grape Choice. It is also highly regarded within the community of Kirkland. If you live on the eastside, hop in your Land Rover and cruise on over … you will see why my parents loved the shop so much!

6.) QFC/Fred Meyer, various locations

You need to grab a bottle of wine, while buying your groceries, QFC is probably your best option (WAY better than the wine I have seen at various Safeway’s and Albertson’s). They tend to have a bigger wine section than other supermarkets and try to have a decent local selection. Fred Meyer surprised me with in their wines as well. Very impressive, large wine department!

7.) The Grape Adventure, Kent WA

http://www.thegrapeadventure.com/

If you read my previous blog, which I am sure you all have… I talk about what a great find this is!! If you are in the south sound, check them out. Also a wine bar; with tasty small plates.

8.) Town and Country Markets (Ballard Market/ Greenwood Market/Central Markets), Seattle, Mill Creek, Poulsbo, Shoreline, Bainbridge Island.

http://www.townandcountrymarkets.com/location.html

For a small market, they actually have wine experts to help you! I love this about Town and Country/Central Markets. Wine section is small, but very thorough in selection!

9.) Vino Verite, Capital Hill

www.vinoverite.com

I have not been to this shop, but have heard amazing things from patrons. I plan on making up to Capital Hill to visit, I just need a babysitter so I can take my time to look around (any takers to babysit?).

10.) Cellar 46, Mercer Island

www.cellar46.com

Also a wine bar – very nice atmosphere. Small wine selection, but very, very nice wines. A little pricey, but worth the stop to grab some tapa’s and have a nice glass of vino.

 11.) Wicked Cellars, Everett

http://wickedcellars.com/about_us.html

This is the only wine shop I recommend, but have not shopped at. Same with any novices I know. I saw their ratings on the internet and explored their site. Seems like a non-snooty, helpful wine shop. I am happy to see Everett opening up some fun shops!! Plus, I love the name. Go E-town!

Eastern WA –

Sorry, but you have wineries in your backyards – so I have not included you. You are lucky SOB’s who can frequent your favorite winery any time.. even in snow, since you know how to drive in it. Seriously though, those living East of the mountains, let me know your favorite shops for wine.

I hope you find this list helpful. I know good wine is to be found anywhere (hey, I have found excellent bottles at a gas station), these are just a few places to guide you in your journey for the perfect wine.

Cheers!