Award winning artisan Blue Cheese producer Rogue Creamery and Cheese Monger Tom Van Voorhees on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I would like to introduce you to my special guest Tom Van Voorhees.  I have been waiting to have Tom as my featured guest for one year now and his incredibly busy schedule has opened up for a brief moment and allowed him to join us today.  Tom and his wife made a decision about three years ago to move from New York all the way out to the small city of Central Point, Oregon.  You’re probably scratching your head and thinking Central Point, Oregon?  It may just be a small blip on the radar of Google Earth but in the world of cheese the Rogue Creamery from Central Point, Oregon has had an impact that is on a world scale.  If you love wine and cheese like you and I do you will never forget the Rogue Creamery but we will get to that in a moment.  First things first here, let’s get back to my friend Tom Van Voorhees, the top Cheese Monger in the United States and perhaps the world in my opinion.  A few years back Tom was officially recognized as top Cheese Monger in the country.

Tom Van Voorhees "The Cheese Monger"

Tom Van Voorhees "The Cheese Monger"

I know I wondered the same thing, what in the heck is a Cheese Monger?  In a nutshell a Cheese Monger is the cheese department or cheese shop manager. Becoming an expert in this field, just like becoming a Sommelier or a Chef, requires a formal education with years of tasting and hands-on experience.  A Cheese Monger is typically responsible for managing the cheese inventory, selecting the cheese menu, purchasing, receiving, storage, and ripening of the cheese.  This is what Tom Van Voorhees is an expert of at the Rogue Creamery.

Follow me to the Rogue Creamery

Follow me to the Rogue Creamery

Tom and I met about a year or so ago at the Rogue Creamery which is located in the heart of the southernmost Oregon wine country or better known in the world of wine as the Rogue Valley AVA, (American Viticultural Area).  It’s made up of three adjacent river valleys (Bear Creek, Applegate, and Illinois valleys) that extend from the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains along the California border north to the Rogue River.  It is 70 miles wide by 60 miles long and encompasses the Applegate Valley sub-appellation.  There are 1,400 farmed acres comprised of 130 vineyards, and 16 wineries.

Del Rio Vineyards from the Rogue Valley AVA

Del Rio Vineyards from the Rogue Valley AVA

The Rogue Valley’s wine history dates back to the 1840s when European immigrants began planting grapes and eventually bottling wines.  In 1852, an early settler named Peter Britt began growing grapes and in 1873 officially opened the Valley View Winery-Oregon’s first official winery.  Valley View remained open until 1907.  Prohibition brought the wine business to a standstill in the Rogue Valley. The Wisnovsky family once again adopted the name Valley View Winery for their label in 1972.  It was in 1968 though when a professor from Oregon State University had planted an experimental vineyard for research purposes that winemakers realized what a great terrior the Rogue Valley is.  As they say the rest was history as the Rogue Valley became an official appellation in 2001.

The predominant wine varietals that are grown in the Rogue Valley are; Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  There are three valleys that have progressively warmer microclimates.  This provides the Rogue Valley a diverse and unique opportunity to grow both warm and cool grape varietals.  Pinot Noir is grown to the west as this microclimate is influenced by mountain and ocean winds that cool the area.  To the east the warm weather varieties thrive.  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grow in the hills at elevations of nearly 2,000 feet which help to produce grapes with nice concentrated fruit.

The Rogue Creamery has quite a history that spans nearly eight decades.  Italian immigrant Tom Vella who had settled in the Sonoma, California area set his sights on the Rogue Valley as an area of opportunity to found a creamery.  When Tom arrived it was small farms and pear orchards and the main industry was lumber.  Tom being a visionary and entrepreneur that he was opened the small creamery during the Depression, a gutsy move considering the lack of economic climate in the United States.  Tom’s goal was to grow the creamery as fast as possible in order to provide employment and sustain the areas small farms.  The farmers were with Tom from the very start.

The Southern Pacific Rail line that ran from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington passed through Medford which is the larger city located right next to Central Point.  Passengers traveling between San Francisco, California and Seattle stopped to enjoy theatrical performances at the historic Holly Theatre.

The Rogue Creamery flourished during the Depression and provided significant amounts of Cheddar cheese for the troops that fought in World War II.   After the war the Rogue Creamery changed focus and was retooled to serve civilian markets.  Cottage cheese was very successfully introduced to the consumer market and served as the transition for the Rogue Creamery to become the premier producer of Blue Cheese that it is today, and may I add the finest Blue Cheese in the world.

Inspired by the success of the Cottage cheese Tom Vella knew that he needed to grow his product base and Blue Cheese was on Tom’s radar.  As the wise entrepreneur that he was he decided to go right to the source of the best Blue Cheese in the world, Roquefort, France.  It was there that Tom and his wife spent the summer of 1955.  Tom’s good fortune, talent and fluency in Italian opened many doors.  The Roquefort Association, although shrouded in secrecy, welcomed Tom when he spoke to the supervisor of the facilities in the man’s native dialect. They became instant blood brothers.  Presented with a gold pass signed by all functionaries of the Society, Tom toured operations from farms to cheese factories to the curing limestone caves at Cambalou.  At the end of summer he departed France with plans for a Roquefort type cheese factory, already producing Oregon Blue in his imagination.  Construction began in Central Point in 1956.

Tom envisioned caves similar to the environment of Cambalou and designed a building to duplicate that atmosphere.  Two Quonset shaped half circled rooms of cement were poured, one over the other, with space in between for insulation. The result was a true cave-like atmosphere.

Production of blue began in early 1955.  Instant success validated Vella’s business acumen.  It also went down in the books as the first blue cheese produced in caves west of the Missouri River.  Over the years Vella’s dedication to quality was unwavering to the end as was his enthusiasm for the business and this valley.  He died on December 23, 1998, at age 100.

The Rogue Creamery was inherited by Tom’s family and his son Ignazio became the driving force behind the creamery.  His reputation as “The Godfather of the artisan cheese industry” really says it all.  Ig as he was known stayed on as mentor to current owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant who are now the senior cheese makers.

Ig, Cary and David

Ig, Cary and David

Today, the Rogue Creamery is thriving.  Gremmels and Bryant have steadfastly held to the principles laid out by Tom and Ig Vella.  The creamery’s Mission Statement; An artisan cheese company, with people dedicated to service, sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese.

In the first two years under the leadership of Gremmels and Bryant the Creamery has won numerous trophies and awards, including World’s Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, a first for a U.S. creamery.

Rogue River Blue - With Certificates

Rogue River Blue - With Certificates

Their long list of accomplishments also includes the coveted Best New Product Award as the World’s first Smokey Blue, one of my favorites, at the National Association for the 2005 Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) Food Show in New York.  The Rogue River Blue, another one of my favorites, took Best in Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society in Austin Texas. They have garnered more than 4 trophies and 30 medals & awards.

Cheese Girl Miranda at the Rogue Creamery

Cheese Girl Miranda at the Rogue Creamery

Hey here is the deal, every cheese that the Rogue Creamery produces are my favorites and I know you will love them too.  The cheese that the Rogue Creamery produces, the Blue’s in particular, are the finest that the world has to offer.  Pair their cheese with the right wines and you are not only living large but you will experience wine and cheese nirvana; I’m not kidding the creamery’s cheeses are fantastic.  Can you tell I love Cheese Monger’s Tom Van Voorhees cheese, I do, I do.

WineGuyMike’s  favorites and his Wine Pairing selections:

Caveman Blue; Caveman Blue is a rich, complex blue that is deliciously sweet & fruity with slight vanilla tones and a texture of butter and crystals…

Caveman

Caveman Blue

Balletto 2007 Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  This beautiful golden-straw colored wine has lush and heady aromas of honey, cream and mango that nicely compliment its brighter green apple and pear aromas.  There is a touch of spice and vanilla from oak ageing and a scent of Meyer lemon that foreshadows the wines crisp acidity.

In the mouth, the viscosity and balance of the wine instantly stand out.  There’s a gorgeous weight and texture which is offset by both the wines bright fruit and its refreshing acidity.  It’s one of those wines that draws you in for a second (and third) sip. Granny Smith apple, baking spices and rich creme brulee round out the initial flavors, and then it finishes with lasting apricot and light butterscotch.

This wine is easy to enjoy at the dinner table.  It has the rare quality of being lush and refreshing at the same time and will enhance a wide variety of foods.  Because of its tartness and texture, it will pair well with salty foods like aged cheeses.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Tuck Beckstoffer

The 75’(the label) is comprised of 80% clone one Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Musque clone, this wine is not allowed to go through secondary fermentation and sees only stainless steel during fermentation and aging. The result is a vibrant wine showcasing ripe summer melon, honey suckle, crushed rock and lemon oil aromas followed by great texture, richness and acidity.  This wine showcases the tremendous quality of Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Lake County region California and is a must have for the serious white wine drinker.  This wine is one of the finest examples of a domestic Sauvignon Blanc there is, and the price offers terrific value.

Crater Lake Blue Cheese; This is their most robust blue cheese.  It is a contemporary complex blend of molds from Rogue Creamery and around the world.

The 2007 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; this fresh, juicy red is a carnival for your senses with a veritable menagerie of delicious flavors!  On the nose you will experience more berries than a midsummer farmers market, a hint of freshly spun cotton candy, orange peel and lavender. Enjoy perfectly ripe flavors of blackberry and white pepper accompanied by a thick round mouthfeel and a loooong dark chocolate finish.

Oregon Blue Cheese; Created a half a century ago, Oregon Blue Vein cheese has been the West Coast’s exemplary award-winning Raw Milk Blue cheese.

2008 The Sum from Tuck Beckstoffer

This amazingly well endowed 75’(the label) Red Blend by Tuck is profoundly rich red wine that must be smelled and tasted to be believed.  The color is a rich, deep purple garnet and gives but a small hint as to what’s inside.  The nose gives off soaring and wonderfully focused aromas of ripe stone fruit, vanilla, cherries, cedar cigar box, blackberries and cinnamon. In the mouth, there are layers upon layers of broad, sweet opulent fruit balanced by firm tannins, great acidity and oak.  This wine is one of the best Red Blends of domestic wines you will find, it offers significant value.  You will be pleasantly shocked by the price of this bottle of wine.

Oregonzola Cheese; This Gorgonzola style cheese is aged a minimum of 120 days in their caves.

Oregonzola

Oregonzola

2009 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier Blend

This unique marriage of these two varietals that would never share the same bottle in their native France unites the crisp, honeyed fruit of Chenin Blanc with the plush body, light floral aromas and juicy stone fruit notes of Viognier.  This wine is refreshing, easy drinking and if you like peaches you will love this wine.  The bouquet of this wine is beautiful and the finish lingers on the palate just as the aroma fills the room.  I love this wine and with the Oregonzola, give it to me all day long.

Adelsheim 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

“With its broad array of origins and clones, this wine displays red aromas (candied cherry, pomegranate and raspberry), on the nose and the palate. In addition, one finds a light touch of brown spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice). True to the Adelsheim house style, this Pinot Noir is elegantly textured with seamlessly integrated, silky, polished tannins.

Smokey Blue Cheese; Rogue Creamery’s “Oregon Blue” is the first blue cheese made on the West Coast, so we thought it only fitting that it be the first blue ever smoked.

Smokey Blue Cheese

Smokey Blue Cheese

2009 Layer Cake Shiraz

Dark, dense and creamy, complex aromas of black plum, Bing cherry, blackberry and pepper merge with licorice, tobacco, mocha and dark chocolate. This is one inky Shiraz; an explosion of dark, super ripe, wild blackberry, with a touch of cigar box finishing with a mélange of exotic spices. A pure fruit bomb…complete from attack through a long, lingering finish.

2009 Plungerhead “Lodi” Zinfandel – This wine is dark ruby in color with flecks of orange.  The old vine Zinfandel vineyards ripened evenly in the Lodi heat of 2009. This allowed the old vine character to explode in this blend with aromas of jammy raspberry, hints of orange rind, clove, and rich caramel oak.  In the mouth, this Zinfandel has flavors of dried strawberry, dark raspberry, plum sauce, cedar, and pomegranate, with hints of white pepper and cherry liquor. The finish is sweet fruit, toasty oak, and lingering warm spices.

Newest Cheese(Cheddar); TouVelle(their newest cheese, an American original semi- hard cheese).

Balletto 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes:  This dark, garnet colored Pinot Noir exhibits floral aromas of rose petals intertwined with spice components of ginger, dusty earth and a hint of vanilla. Fruit aromas of raspberry and cassis form the core of the wine, and in the mouth, create a long, delicious finish that can be tasted for several minutes.

The wine is showy with a seamless viscosity that is balanced with a healthy bit of tartness to keep the wine fresh and lively. It’s full in the palate with fine, coco-powder like tannins and a nice dose of astringency that lend additional grip and structure to this wine. Overall, the wine has struck the fine balance between delicate and structured, and will improve with bottle aging during the next five years (or more).

Tom you were an even better guest than I had hoped, and I had super high expectations having met you a year ago.  Not only does the Rogue Creamery sell all of their products but Tom also sells a collection of his favorite cheeses from around the world.  The Rogue Creamery is honestly worth a vacation trip just to visit the creamery, it is an amazing place where you can just sense all the history that has taken place.  I recommend it and give my whole hearted recommendation to visit their website and try these amazing cheeses; www.roguecreamery.com

Here are specific recommendations from the Rogue Creamery’s website:

I. BLUE CHEESE: Generally pairs well with full-bodied reds, or sweeter whites such as Gewürztraminer or late harvest.  Port is classic.  Specifications follow:

·        Oregonzola:  The cheese is milder in flavor than Roquefort or Danish-style blues.  Pairs with Viognier; check out Pinot Noirs on a case-by-case basis; yeasty champagnes work; spicy Zinfandels, robust Merlots and Cabernet Francs; Bordeaux-style blends.

·        Oregon Blue: A full-bodied blue cheese which requires a wine correspondingly robust in flavor.  Try Fruity Pear wine, Late Harvest White, Cabernet Sauvignon, Claret, Syrah; Port is excellent.

The Famed Oregon Blue

The Famed Oregon Blue

·        Crater Lake Blue:  A full-bodied blue, with a long finish.  Late Harvest White, Cabernet Franc; Claret; Syrah; Port.

Craterlake Cheese

Craterlake Blue

·        Echo Mountain:  An earthier blue cheese (a blend of cow’s milk and goat’s milk), with its own unique flavor.  Pinot Gris; Viognier; Cabernet Franc;  Cabernet Sauvignon.

·        Smokey Blue:  Pairs well with  good “food” wines; Pinot Gris; Chardonnay; well-rounded reds on the fruity side, lighter on tannins and acidity – i.e., selected Zinfandels, Merlots and blends.

·        Rogue River Blue:  This cheese has a strong, well-aged flavor with hints of brandy and fruit – a medium wine won’t stand up to it.  Choose wines with the fullness of age –   Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Port – or the classic French or German Gewürztraminers.

Rogue River Blue

Rogue River Blue

II.     CHEDDAR: Generally pairs well with medium to dry white and red wines, especially the sharp and extra-sharp cheddars.  Flavored cheddars, usually at the mild or medium level, will expand the selections in both categories.  Don’t forget the beers – cheddars are classic companions to a variety of ales, stouts and lagers.

An Assortment of Cheddars

An Assortment of Cheddars

·      Sharp and Extra-sharp Cheddar:  pair with full-bodied whites and reds – Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Claret.  Muscats also complement this cheese.  Ales and pilsners are good  with sharp cheddars.

·        Rosemary Cheddar:  Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.

·        Chocolate Stout:  Keep to a fruity wine, on the dry side, in the Viognier, Claret, or Zinfandel families.  For beers, try a stout or porter.

III.   CURDS: Very light in traditional cheese characteristics; the flavoring agents become prevalent in the flavored varieties.  Curds pair well with most beers, and with lighter white and red wines.

"Squeaky" Cheese Curds

"Squeaky" Cheese Curds

·        Plain Curds:  good with Rose, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir.

·        Pesto Curds:   Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

·        Jalapeno Curds:  Ales, Lagers, Pilsners.

·        Garlic Curds:  Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

Pairing Tips: Pair regional foods, wine and beer together.  Pair light colored wines and beers with fresh cheeses.  Wines higher in tannin exaggerate flavors in cheese ie. fat, sharpness, sweetness and animal flavors.  Dessert wines pair nicely with cheeses that have a salty, sharp or bitter flavor.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

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Fine Artist of Wine Leanne Laine on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com or http://www.fresh1045.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I would like to introduce you to the wonderful wine artist Leanne Laine.  Leanne is a fine artist that shares her work with you and I from perhaps the most beautiful city in the northern hemisphere Vancouver, BC in Canada, a city where the mountains appear to rise from the ocean.  That in itself would seemingly be an inspiration to paint and that she does, please meet my wine artist friend Leanne Laine.

Leanne Laine Fine Artist of Wine

Leanne Laine Fine Artist of Wine

Leanne and I met by following one another on Twitter.  I make a concerted effort to be personally connected with anyone I follow on Twitter.  When someone is thoughtful enough to consider following @WineGuyMike I take a moment to reach out and discover what that follower is sharing with the world.  That is when I discovered that my guest this week is the artist whose work adorns the walls of all of the Ciao Mambo restaurants.  Ciao Mambo in Missoula where I taste and write about wine happens to sponsor the show I produce each week at the Trail 1033 and Fresh 104.5.

For me wine is an experience because it almost always revolves around a social event whether it is an event or an outing with my wife.  My point is that I always put thought into my wine outing or even shopping for wine, there is a purpose behind it and culminates with the sharing of wine with someone I enjoy and care about or at an event that is striving to do good things for the world.  Sometimes they are business gatherings where I’m meeting interesting people who are making things happen in their particular niche of the world.  You get the point wine is an experience that can be shared and enjoyed with other you value in your life.

Leanne Laine the fine artist of wine is just that person, she paints her passion that helps create the experience and she is that person who is part of that experience.  Ciao Mambo is an Italian restaurant that my wife and I enjoy, the food is great, they have the best Italian wine list you will find in most establishments.  We always have a great experience when we have dinner there, and we love proprietor Bret Evje.  Ciao as we call it in Missoula has great music and great art hanging in the restaurant thanks to my new friend Leanne Laine.

Leanne journey as a fine artist began like this; Leanne started her career working as Human Resources consultant for a large company.  Growing up she loved art and has always been an artist.  For most parents though I think their greatest fear is for their children to want to go to art school, that might translate as oh no my child will be living with me until they are 40 years old.  Leanne’s parents encouraged her to go to school and find a degree that would provide gainful employment when finished and that’s exactly what she did.  That is until Leanne was laid off from her gainful employment.  Leanne is married to husband Stewart and has a 4 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. 

Leanne is a self-taught artist that is now internationally-collected and published for her renowned wine art.  After being displaced from her day job Leanne decided to turn her passion for creating art into a business by selling her paintings and limited edition canvas prints online.  Leanne’s work has caught fire and as a result her husband Stewart left his newly appointed position as head of engineering for a large corporate company to help keep up with the demand of their quickly growing art business.  Not only does her work sell online but many businesses in the restaurant, hospitality and wine industries across North America are picking up on Leanne’s work.   Businesses displaying her works in their establishments are selling them to patrons who want to buy her art right off their walls.  Leanne is a tenacious creative woman who has followed her passion and turned a seemingly difficult situation into an amazing career as a wine artist that she loves, it’s obvious when you listen to her story as she shares it with us.  Leanne loves to do good things in the world too, she gives back by donating her art pieces for silent auction throughout the year, both in the US and Canada to many charitable events, my main focus is children and cancer research.

Her is a little side story from our conversation about how she started painting wine art; Having a glass of wine while painting became a ritual for Leanne as she grew her portfolio… though she had not begin painting wines.  One night sitting in front of her blank canvas she realized she had the dreaded “artists’ block”.  She felt that creative surge but just didn’t know what to paint.  So she poured herself another glass of wine and voila…her fascination with wine as a subject matter was born.  Since then, she began looking at wine differently… by incorporating everything around us into wine… especially women.  Put bluntly, Leanne sees wine as a sexy and sensual subject.  Leanne states “wine can hold its own”.  She sees wine as coming to life in the wine glass, basically putting on a show in the glass once it has been poured: swirling, seducing, and tantalizing the taste buds. To Leanne wine seemed to have similar qualities to that of a woman (hence, her Women in Wine Series).  Sensual, sexy, empowering, and you tend to notice when a beautiful, confident woman enters the room.  People want to be her; people want to be with her….Leanne I couldn’t agree more.  My wife and I love Leanne’s art, it is always a conversation we have while dining at Ciao Mambo enjoying a glass of wine together.  You can’t help becoming lost in her work with contemplative thought; it makes for a terrific conversation when paired with wine which is exactly what I share with you this week.

Leanne was kind enough to select three pieces of her collection with descriptions that I will pair with a bottle of wine that I’m inclined to enjoy as I study her art. 

The Three Art Pieces we will have a little fun with this week:

Temptress Tempranillo http://www.leannelainefineart.com/galleries/product.php?cat=&productid=23579&rowpos=1

Leanne’s signature piece, the TEMPTRESS TEMPRANILLO.  Many women tell her this piece helps them truly appreciate what lies beneath their own skin, leaving them feeling empowered, sexy and powerful, especially while enjoying their favorite glass of wine.  As a woman and wine enthusiast, this is exactly the feeling that she expressed while painting this piece and she loves that other women connect with this as well.

Autumn Blend http://www.leannelainefineart.com/galleries/product.php?cat=&productid=23623&rowpos=1&nextid=2

Her AUTUMN BLEND is a piece where she had incorporated a rich, foliage autumn tree.  Wines come in reds, yellows, whites, ambers, purples… so do Fall leaves.  Living in beautiful BC, there are many places here displaying such a richness of fall colors that in her opinion, it’s practically quenching to the eyes.  They say to stop and smell the roses.  How about stop and watch the colors of our natural surroundings turn.

Smooth & Saxy http://www.leannelainefineart.com/galleries/product.php?cat=&productid=23530&rowpos=4&previd=3&nextid=5

Leanne’s SMOOTH & SAXY piece is an expression for her love and appreciation for all kinds of music.  Besides enjoying a glass of wine, another part of Leanne’s rituals while painting is listening to jazz.  Wine, Art, and Jazz this is one Leanne’s favorites and one of her collector’s favorite pieces from her jazz series of works.

Visit Leanne’s site for a chance to win a free limited edition giclee and to connect with her:

Leanne’s website; http://www.leannelainefineart.com

Follow her on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/leanne_laine

Follow her on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/leannelainefineart

YouTube – Watch Leanne Speed Paint for Japan Relief Efforts!

The Three Art Piece and Wine Pairings from WineGuyMike™

Let’s start with Leanne’s signature piece the TEMPTRESS TEMPRANILLO.  Okay it’s Summer time and I’m going to deviate from a Tempranillo and go to a lighter bodied Pinot Noir that I tasted recently on the show and it knocked my socks off; the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Balletto Vineyards and Winery.  Winemaker Anthony Beckman killed it on this wine; it is a fabulous Pinot Noir that pairs perfectly with the Temptress Tempranillo.

2009 Russian River Pinot Noir

This dark, garnet colored Pinot Noir exhibits floral aromas of rose petals intertwined with spice components of ginger, dusty earth and a hint of vanilla. Fruit aromas of raspberry and cassis form the core of the wine, and in the mouth, create a long, delicious finish that can be tasted for several minutes.

The wine is showy with a seamless viscosity that is balanced with a healthy bit of tartness to keep the wine fresh and lively.  It’s full in the palate with fine, coco-powder like tannins and a nice dose of astringency that lend additional grip and structure to this wine.  Overall, the wine has struck the fine balance between delicate and structured, and will improve with bottle aging during the next five years (or more). 

On to the next beautiful piece from Leanne; AUTUMN BLEND is paired with a simple blend that is perfect for you summer palate.  It is an inexpensive value driven wine that is a must try.

Le Clos

Le Clos seems to be like something out of “The Arabian Nights.”  This wine displays an attractive raspberry red color with hints of garnet.  Its nose is lively and complex, with notes of red and black fruits.  Refined oak fragrance with hints of incense, spices (nutmeg, clove, ginger), anise, autumn woods and tobacco. It is very soft on the palate, with a fresh, tangy acidity.  Le Clos shows a wonderful balance.  It is well-structured yet elegant, with fine tannins.  It will perfectly accompany a duck terrine laced with olives, a roast rack of lamb, barbecued beef or pork chops with fines herbes, as well as pheasant with wild mushrooms or boeuf bourguignon.

Domaine Sainte Eugénie is positioned within the district of Fontfroide, the sweet spot of Corbières, with an 800 year history of viticulture.  The estate is located within the foothills of the Pyrénées along the Mediterranean coast.  Clay and chalk soils dominate here.  The dry weather, sunny and warm climate combine to create an optimal growing environment.  This new wine, just released, is the latest addition to Domaine Sainte Eugénie.  It is unique in that it has a slight, refined oak character, highlighting a sturdy base of red fruit and oriental spices. Bringing into play terroir and savoir-faire, tradition and exotic flair, a blend of  45% Merlot, 20% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine hails from Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.  Don’t miss this wine it’s fantastic complement for any summer barbeque.

Now for Leanne’s SMOOTH & SAXY I have selected one of my favorite producers from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Argyle Winery and their sparkling wine that is readily available.

Argyle 2007 Brut –this gem has a 90 PT. Wine Spectator Rating, 63% Oregon Chardonnay, 37% Oregon Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine Knudsen Vineyards, Lone Star Vineyard Willamette Valley AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Prepare to be fascinated by this alluring sparkling vintage.  The aromas are a weaving together of the best that fine sparkling wines deliver.  Look for vanilla spiced pear fruit with very floral citrus blossom scents.  A lovely yeastiness blends nicely with fresh baguette bouquet.  There’s a hint of Fresca-like citrus in there too.  The palate is Vibrant and chock full of tiny bubbles.  Pear to red apple fruit folds nicely into vanilla spice.  The texture is creamy-plus, providing amazing richness while remaining zippy and citrusy.  The yeast flavor has evolved into filo dough right out of the oven.   A beautiful finish offers flavors that go on and on after the wine is gone.  Don’t miss this one folks.

It was a real pleasure to host Fine Wine Artist Leanne Laine this week, thanks for what you do to enhance wine lovers wine experience.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

A great American wine story Balletto Vineyards and Winery on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/07/14/wine-guy-mike-for-717/  Full conversation between Anthony and WineGuyMike™

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Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I uncovered a great American story that really resonated with me.  I was very moved by what I learned this week about Balletto Vineyards & Winery, and I’m not talking about the wine we’ll get around to that shortly.  Each week I share stories with you that I find so compelling; well I just have to talk about it with anyone who is kind enough to listen.  So fasten your seat belt and here we go as I invite you to travel on a virtual road trip to Sonoma County and the Russian River Valley.

Let me give you a little background about my family; my Grandfather was born in Sicily and came to New York State as many Italian immigrants have throughout the history of our country.  He was very poor and settled in the real Upstate of New York and not what people that live in the city now refer to as “Upstate”.  My Grandfather worked in a steel foundry, raised a family of five, and bought a small farm in Mexico, New York.  This farm raised all the food that fed this family and I mean 100%, from the beef, the pork, the poultry, the vegetables, and of course the wine.  My Grandfather was a magician at the craft of grafting fruit trees and grape vines, this is where my inspiration for wine was born right in my Grandfathers garden and vineyard.

In amare di memoria di Frederick e Francis Tornatore

In amare di memoria di Frederick e Francis Tornatore

My grandparent’s had a large roadside vegetable stand that helped provide the scarce money that raised my Italian family.  This will give you a little background on why I was so moved in hearing the great American story of Mr. John Balletto and the Balletto Vineyards & Winery.

John Balletto was a high school student with great promise.  He was hard working and a great track and football athlete with hope of a very promising collegiate opportunity.  John’s Father succumbed to a very untimely death when John was only 17 years old.  The dreams of college ended very quickly for John Balletto but his tenacity and willingness to work hard did not.  As any entrepreneur will tell you; you better be able to face adversity and shift gears quickly, this is what John Balletto has been so insightful in doing throughout his life.

2010 Farm Family of the Year in Sonoma County California, the Balletto Family

2010 Farm Family of the Year in Sonoma County California, the Balletto Family

Facing the reality of the writing on the wall John went to his Mother who had 5 acres of land and with $200.00 dollars John Balletto became a vegetable farmer.  This business grew very successfully but the cost of leasing land became prohibitive so with the help of his high school counselor, Mr. Pete Barbieri, John and his wife Terri purchased their first ranch in Santa Rosa, California.  John eventually grew his vegetable business to 700 acres of land and was producing 70 varietals of vegetables to the tune of 2 million cases of vegetables a year.  John Balletto had become the largest grower north of the Golden Gate Bridge, pretty darned impressive for a guy who became a vegetable farmer at 17 with all the money, $200.00, he had to his name.

Things began to change in John’s game though.  In 1994 and 1995 the NAFTA Agreement was put in place and drastically changed the vegetable business.  With the floodgates opened to the outside world to import their vegetables into the U.S. it made it next to impossible to sustain meaningful business.  John didn’t quit though, his tenacity drove him on.  Mother Nature was very cruel or so it appeared in 1998 with three successive El Nino storms wiping out three successive crops.  The vegetable farming business was done but John Balletto was not.  He had 35 acres of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, planted on the western hillside of his ranch in Sebastopol, California.

John Balletto

John Balletto

Guess what John did next?  You guessed right John began the conversion of his land that he grew his vegetables on and began turning that land into vineyards.  John had a mentor, Mr. Warren Dutton whose families farming history dates back to the 19th Century.  Mr. Dutton suggested that John consider getting into the grape growing business and John did just that, and the rest is history.  John is now the largest vineyard owner in Sonoma County and produces wines under the Balletto Vineyards & Winery label.  10% of the grapes that John produces are used for their own Estate grown and produced wines while the other 90% are being used by other winemakers and vineyards around the region.  In July 2010, the Balletto Family was honored being awarded the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year.    

Head winemaker Anthony Beckman

Head winemaker Anthony Beckman

Part two of this story; even if you grow amazing grapes which John Balletto does you have to have someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to the winemaking piece of the equation.  Enter Anthony Beckman, winemaker extraordinaire.  Anthony was my featured guest on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week.  Anthony started his career as a daily news journalist on the East Coast and has always had a burning passion for wine and food.  After leaving his career as a journalist Anthony worked in bio-tech software development in San Francisco.  He was a frequent flier in the Sonoma Wine country as this is where his heart truly was.  No longer able to resist his true calling Anthony was up to his knees in a tank of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, he quit his tech job and has never looked back.  His second harvest found Anthony in New Zealand.  He obviously is drawn to varietals that like the day time sun and nice cool nights.  Anthony came back to Northern California as head wine buyer for Taylor’s gourmet grocery market in the Sacramento area.

Like many aspiring winemakers before him Anthony got himself checked into one of the finest wine institutions in the world, U.C. Davis.  Anthony received his degrees in Enology and Viticulture from the hallowed grounds of Davis.  In 2007 Anthony was hired by Balletto as their Enologist and was then promoted to Head Winemaker in 2009. 

Having Anthony as a guest this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© was a real treat.  Anthony graduated from U.C. Davis with top honors and it was obvious why.  This winemaker has a burning passion and love for wine first and is as smart and articulate a guest as I have had the pleasure of having on the show. 

As hard work, timing, and opportunity would have it for John Balletto as he transitioned from vegetables to grape growing in Sonoma County and the Russian River Valley, this area turned out to be one of the best places to grow grapes that there is.  Mother Nature took its cruel El Nino swipe at John but he never gave up.  It was a blessing in disguise as the climate of Sonoma provides perfect growing conditions.  The weather in Sonoma  is foggy until late morning when it burns off and makes way for sunny clear blue skies late into the day.  The cool prevailing winds that influence this area are perfect for growing exceptional grapes that are draped with moist dew thoroughout the night into the late morning hours.  In other words the grapes bake in the sunshine all day and then the cool moist influence shuts down the ripening process throughout the night and allows the fruit and sugars to concentrate within the grapes.  That’s why Sonoma County wines in the right hands of a great winemaker are fantastic, and this is what the Balletto wines are.

I thought a great deal about my conversation with Anthony Beckman this week while I virtually tasted wines with him on the radio show and wondered why he is a great winemaker.  The Balletto wines are some of the best wines I have tasted in recent memory.  As I have said before great wines are a direct translation of a winemakers personality in a bottle, and this is the case with Balletto wines and winemaker Anthony Beckman.  The other thing Anthony has going for him is that he doesn’t realize yet just how good of a winemaker he really is.  Anthony makes wines in a style that I love, not overdone and not underdone, just perfect.

Beautiful grapes from Balletto Vineyards

Beautiful grapes from Balletto Vineyards

At Balletto Vineyards & Winery they produce wines that are in a food friendly style that really complement your meal.  The wines are a bit lower in alcohol, are high in acidity, and these wines are not over manipulated.  The Balletto wines are fermented and barrel aged on the lees, but in old barrels that leave the wine in a state of neutrality meaning the wood from the barrels do not overly impart their nuances into the wine.  These wines are stirred to let all the goodness of the lees and sediment to infuse with the juice and maintain a wonderful texture in the Balletto wines.  Honestly these wines are just some of the very best California has to offer.  Anthony’s personality in the bottle is this; detailed and restrained.  You must try these wines; I will be enjoying them today at my usual Sunday family gathering.

I tasted through three of the Balletto wines with Anthony this week and here are the wines I sampled.

2008 Pinot Gris

Here’s a fantastically complex Pinot Gris.  This pale-straw colored wine opens with musky and exotic fresh fig and floral honey tones.  The secondary aromas reveal ripe red apple, melon and lemon.  Altogether, these aromas are ever-changing and intoxicating.  In the mouth, its lush and perfectly viscous with a dose of tartness that balances and holds the wine together.

The fig and honey aromas make a secondary appearance in the finish to create a generous and incredibly long aftertaste thats enhanced with a hint of butterscotch.  This versatile food wine has enough body and flavor to complement rich seafood like lobster and scallops and would also serve as an aperitif.  It’s a perfect summertime wine.

To add complexity, the Balletto Pinot Gris is made in two separate lots.  The first is fermented in a stainless steel tank at 52 degrees Fahrenheit.  This cold fermentation takes up to five months to complete and gives the wine its bright fruit tones and crisp mouth feel.  The second half is fermented in old, neutral barrels and generally finishes in three to six weeks.  The barrels are stirred every two weeks to keep the solids in suspension and enhance the wines texture.

2007 Chardonnay

This beautiful golden-straw colored wine has lush and heady aromas of honey, cream and mango that nicely compliment its brighter green apple and pear aromas.  There is a touch of spice and vanilla from oak ageing and a scent of Meyer lemon that foreshadows the wines crisp acidity.

In the mouth, the viscosity and balance of the wine instantly stand out. There’s a gorgeous weight and texture which is offset by both the wines bright fruit and its refreshing acidity.  It’s one of those wines that draws you in for a second (and third) sip.  Granny Smith apple, baking spices and rich creme brulee round out the initial flavors, and then it finishes with lasting apricot and light butterscotch.

This wine is easy to enjoy at the dinner table.  It has the rare quality of being lush and refreshing at the same time and will enhance a wide variety of foods. Because of its tartness and texture, it will pair well with salty foods like aged cheeses, roasted sardines and oysters.  It can also pair based on its creamy side and compliment rich soups like butternut squash and potato leek, or a wide variety of roasted white meats and vegetables.

This wine was completely fermented in 60-gallon French oak barrels (28% of which were new).  The wines were stirred every two weeks for the first seven months and then left to settle for bottling after 10 months.  The frequent stirring of the yeast cells on the bottom of each barrel helped give the wine its rich texture and mouth-feel which developed as the spent yeast cells slowly degraded and released enriching molecules into the wine.  This traditional practice has been used for hundreds of years to enhance the texture and weight of Chardonnay.

2009 Russian River Pinot Noir

This dark, garnet colored Pinot Noir exhibits floral aromas of rose petals intertwined with spice components of ginger, dusty earth and a hint of vanilla. Fruit aromas of raspberry and cassis form the core of the wine, and in the mouth, create a long, delicious finish that can be tasted for several minutes.

The wine is showy with a seamless viscosity that is balanced with a healthy bit of tartness to keep the wine fresh and lively.  It’s full in the palate with fine, coco-powder like tannins and a nice dose of astringency that lend additional grip and structure to this wine.  Overall, the wine has struck the fine balance between delicate and structured, and will improve with bottle aging during the next five years (or more). 

With the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, they ferment each lot of grapes separately in three to six ton batches.  They do not add commercial yeast to the tanks and instead rely on the natural yeasts found on the grapes and throughout the winery to ferment the juice.  This process tends to increase the length of the fermentation and add an additional layer of complexity to the finished wine.  During fermentation and barrel aging, they treat the new wine as gently as possible in an effort to preserve its aroma.

The Balletto wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Grillin’ and Chillin’ on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Perfect Wine and Beef for Your Barbeque.


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/07/10/wine-guy-mike-for-71011/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© we’re Grillin’ and Chillin’.  The dog days of summer are upon us and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on pairing wines with beef.  Its summer and I’m thinkin’ about grillin’ and chillin’.  When we think about food and wine paired together it is worth putting a little bit of thought into it.  Why?  When you match or pair the right food with the right wine it’s like magic, the wine and food not only complement one another they bring out the best in each other.  So what do you need to know?  Matching wine and food is just a balancing act and here are a few things to think about.  Is the food texture heavy or light, how I will be cooking my meal, and are there any sauces involved?  As for the wine piece of this equation what type of wine do your guests and you enjoy.   

Okay so it’s a beautiful summer day I’ve got some friends and family coming over and I’m in the mood to grill and chill.   Now I am thinking about what type of beef I’m going to select, how I’m going to prepare it, and finally how I’m going to serve it.  The next thing I’m going to consider is the texture of the particular cut of beef that I’m going to serve my guests for dinner.  What makes this thought process fun is when you set down to share your meal with your friends and family and you can let them know about the wine your serving with the meal and why it makes them feel like the special guests that they are.

Now let’s talk a little about steak sauce.  Most folks like to garnish with a steak sauce and this is something to consider as well.  Steak sauce if you will notice on the list of ingredients has a great deal of some form of vinegar included in it, this is a form of acid.  One of the reasons these sauces include vinegar or acid is the fact that acid brings out flavors in food and helps to leave a lingering flavor on your palette.  If I were to recommend a wine with a crème or cheese sauce I would be suggesting a wine with a high acid content that would be medium to full bodied.  A red tomato based sauce such as a marinara would call for a light body red wine, but for this dinner we are grilling steaks.

Just as foods have a texture and firmness wines also have a quality of texture.  Remember we are looking for balance and a synergy between wine and the foods they are paired with.  A full bodied wine bold on texture should not be paired with delicate dishes nor should they be paired with a food dish that is big on flavor.  Big wine and big flavor just don’t work well together, we are looking for harmony.  A mild food dish would do well to be paired with a medium to light body wine.

I’m going to choose some cuts of beef that are my personal favorites.  I love prime grade Top Sirloin; prime grade beef is richer and has a much suppler mouthfeel than the standard grade of beef.  Just as wine has a texture and mouthfeel so does your beef if you think about it. Rib Eyes are another great cut of beef I love, oh that’s right I love all beef.  Beef and wine matched correctly is just a beautiful thing. 

As I share this love affair of wine and beef with you I would like you to note that I really consider the percentage of marbling in particular cuts of beef as I’m choosing the right wines to partner with my guests meal.  

The Chuck Section: Hamburger has a higher fat content and will make a tasty, juicy burger that is well suited for a nice fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon.  A Cabernet varietal is a big, powerful red wine that is full in body, rich, and very flavorful.  Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that imparts flavors of fruits, berries, currants, and plums.  This wine may also exhibit slight spicy nuances.

2009 Layer Cake Cabernet

Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon from California

Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon from California

The 2009 Layer Cake Cabernet displays a beautiful deep garnet color.  Aromas of blackberry, cassis, violets, cedar, tobacco, and hints of minerals and graphite.  Sweet, densely packed and creamy in the mouth, but with firm, underlying structure that gives lift to the dark berry, chocolate, and coffee flavors.  This is a very lush, soft, complex wine that coats the palate and spreads out on the long, lingering finish.

The Rib Section: A Rib Eye steak that is well marbled is a rich and flavorful will pair well with a bold, spicy Syrah.  Syrah is a big powerful full bodied wine, also known as Shiraz in Australia.  Supple, smooth, rich with well mannered mellow tannins describes the Syrah wines.  Flavor wise a Syrah can be slightly spicy, fruity like black cherries, or some may have a deep nutty flavoring.

2009 Layer Cake Shiraz

Layer Cake Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Layer Cake Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Dark, dense and creamy, complex aromas of black plum, Bing cherry, blackberry and pepper merge with licorice, tobacco, mocha and dark chocolate. This is one inky Shiraz; an explosion of dark, super ripe, wild blackberry, with a touch of cigar box finishing with a mélange of exotic spices. A pure fruit bomb…complete from attack through a long, lingering finish.
The Short Loin Section: Filet Mignon is a lean, delicate cut that is well suited to a nice smooth wine with great body.  The wine Pinot Noir is the grape variety of red burgundian wines; it can produce wines that are incredible.  When aged in oak, it should have a sweetness reminiscent of raspberries, with undertones of vegetation and chocolate.  The wine can stand up to aging for many years.  Pinot Noir at its best will be smooth, full of flavor, and have a beautiful bouquet.

Adelsheim 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Adelsheim 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Adelsheim 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

“With its broad array of origins and clones, this wine displays red aromas (candied cherry, pomegranate and raspberry), on the nose and the palate. In addition, one finds a light touch of brown spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice). True to the Adelsheim house style, this Pinot Noir is elegantly textured with seamlessly integrated, silky, polished tannins.  This is perfect match with any Filet Mignon that you serve.

The Sirloin Section: Boneless Sirloin is a less tender but tends to be more flavorful than other cuts of meat from the loin section.  Malbec is one of Argentina’s finest!  A good Malbec will present itself as fruit forward, medium bodied and flamboyant, I love this red.  Spicy and tannic at its best this wine can be outstanding.

Maipe Malbec

Maipe Malbec

Maipe Malbec – Smooth enough it really doesn’t even need food, and has a 90 point rating. The Mendoza region of Argentina produces amazing Malbec.  In this warm dry climate the Malbec achieves near perfect ripeness and have a silky texture with intense flavors of blackberry, peppery spice, and balsamic herbs. The cooler, well-drained slopes of the hillsides of the region are perfect terrior for the Malbec grape.

The Round Section: An Eye of Round served pepper-crusted and rare is a very lean, slightly chewy cut.  This will pair well with a Red Blend that has great structure. 

Bookwalter Subplot No 25

Bookwalter Subplot No 25

Subplot No 25 –  A great red blend from the Columbia valley comprised of 30% Cabernet 27% Merlot 14% Syrah 9% Petit Verdot 4% Barbera 3% Cab Franc.  Aromatics of currants, dark berries, black plums, mocha and marzipan linger as the wine enters the palate full of ripe fruit flavors, Black Forest cherries, Boysenberries, and dates layered with cola, resin, graphite and a dash of Thai spice. You will experience a lush and full mid palate prelude that leads to a velour like finish.  This wine is great balance of fruit and acidity.

Each lot of wine selected for Subplot is carefully chosen each year after they have made their final blends for their top tier wines.  Bookwalter creates a flavorful, full-bodied yet approachable wine by layering vintages, vineyards and varietals in their Subplot wines.  Press wine from our oldest vineyards are aged longer in the cellar to help soften the tannins and create more mature flavors and wine from their  younger vines and more recent vintages are added to the blend to bring the lush and bright fruit characteristics forward in the wine. 

The Brisket Section: Brisket that is slowly cooked on the barbeque can be buttery, smoky, with flavors that call for the red fruit and fig aromas and full bodied profile of Sangiovese A.K.A. Chianti, but in this case we are going to take it up a notch and go right to the heart of Tuscany and into the Chianti Classico region.  This spicy medium bodied red will exhibit nuances of cherry and raspberry flavor with just the right amount of tannin, acid, and fruit.  A nice Chianti Classico will pair so well with the buttery and smoky flavor of the Brisket.

Castello di Fonterutoli 2006

Castello di Fonterutoli 2006

Castello di Fonterutoli 2006

This wine is a stunning composition of strikingly diverse Sangiovese’s notes, some of which are exclusively found on the Mazzei Estate, and have rarely been tasted before.

This incredible wine has a deep and impenetrable ruby red color.   The wine is incredibly layered, it opens up with subtle hints of fresh spices (black pepper) that develop into perfumes of fresh red fruits (red currant), and followed by more intense dark ripe fruits (plum).  The harmony of flavors is concluded by notes of forest undergrowth and an earthy, musky finale.  This is an unbelievable wine.

The Flank Section: Thin Flank Steak is best slowly grilled over a low flame.  The smoky flavors from the grill and intense beef flavor compliment a Zinfandel.  This full bodied, fruit forward, and spicy wine is one of California’s favorites, and most plentiful.  Berries, cherries, tobacco, oak, and vanilla this wine seems to have it all.

2009 Plungerhead "Lodi" Zinfandel

2009 Plungerhead "Lodi" Zinfandel

2009 Plungerhead “Lodi” Zinfandel – This wine is dark ruby in color with flecks of orange.  The old vine Zinfandel vineyards ripened evenly in the Lodi heat of 2009. This allowed the old vine character to explode in this blend with aromas of jammy raspberry, hints of orange rind, clove, and rich caramel oak. In the mouth, this Zinfandel has flavors of dried strawberry, dark raspberry, plum sauce, cedar, and pomegranate, with hints of white pepper and cherry liquor. The finish is sweet fruit, toasty oak, and lingering warm spices.

Alright head to the store and purchase you beef selection you’ve decided on, stoke up the grill, and open up your wine so it can breathe and be at its best to serve to your guests.  They’ll think they are kings and queens, remember keep the wine in the house in a cool place so they are served at the right temperature. 

WineGuyMike™ raises his glass in a toast to you grillin’ and chillin’ this weekend.  Grill on wine warriors!

"from my grill to yours"

"from my grill to yours"

Join me on a trip to Sangriaville on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©, and all things Sangria


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/07/03/wine-guy-mike-for-7311/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors         

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Sangria in Sangriaville

Sangria in Sangriaville

This week’s WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Topic; Sangria.  I would like to wish all of my listeners, readers, followers, and fans a happy 4th of July.  May your celebrations be wonderful and safe.  This week I wanted to share an age old crowd pleaser from around the world that everyone wants to claim to as their national drink.  Who knows for sure but what I can tell you this wine punch is refreshing and approachable for any of your family and friends you have gathered with to celebrate Independence Day.  I’m going to share with you what it is, where it came from, and how it is made.  Join me for a trip to Sangriaville, won’t you?

Sangria is a wine punch that I love because it falls right under the WineGuyMike’s™  rules of order and you may ask what is that, there are “no rules”.  That’s right when it comes to Sangria there are regional, cultural, restaurant, and family influences that incent hostesses and hosts of parties to create their own version of Sangria, whether it’s red or white.

The other thing I like about Sangria is the very definition of this Spanish Punch; Sangría; meaning “bloodletting”.   Okay this stuff sounds dangerous so that means I’m in on this.  All kidding aside this is one of the perennial summertime favorites from around the world, and why not, it’s big on flavor, it quenches your thirst, and it’s a great drink to share with friends at any social gathering.

Spain may lay claim to this drink but upon further research I found that may not exactly be the true story.  A British East India Company traveling in India tasted a drink known as Pac.  This drink that the British discovered had five ingredients that were referred to in its name; Eau de vie, sugar, lemon, water and tea. The British group took this recipe back to the West Indies and the name of the drink evolved into punch.  The French have also laid claim to this drink historically too.

The base of Sangria is a nice table wine that is not expensive.  Typically a wine that is light to medium bodied is what is best to use in Sangria.  In Spain they will use a Tempranillo or a Grenache from the Rioja region, the French will use a Beaujolais or a Gamay, and the Italians will use a Bardolino, Dolcetto, Grignolino , Freisa, or some Lambrusco.

If you prefer a Sangria that is white you might use a Pinot Bianco(Blanc) or possibly a unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Gris(Grigio), or a Sauvignon Blanc will do nicely as well.  In Spain this is known as Sangria Blanca. 

Next comes the fruit which is sliced or chopped; lemons, oranges, apples, peaches, pineapple, melon, berries, or mangos.  Now it’s time to sweeten things up a bit; sugar, simple syrup, honey, or the nectar from the fruit.  At this point you will add Orange Juice and a splash or two of something fortified, I prefer Brandy, or some spirits followed by ice and something carbonated, my suggestion is seltzer water.  If a person were so inclined they could use a dry sparkling wine in place of the seltzer water.

To prepare Sangria you will slice all fruit thinly and place in you large wide mouthed pitcher or punchbowl and add your other ingredients minus ice and anything that may be carbonated.  Then place in the refrigerator for the day so all the flavors will meld together.  Now before serving you will add the ice and carbonated beverages.

This drink is served in the summertime in most Latin American countries, Italy, and America.  But you can bet where it’s hot even in the wintertime they’re drinking Sangria.  Here are some great Sangria recipes for you to try.

*I would recommend a pitcher with a strainer for the top as it makes the drink easier to pour with the fruit in it.

Here are some of WineGuyMike’s™ favorite Sangria recipes and wines that I recommend to make your Sangria with.

2009 Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay

2009 Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay

2009 Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay

The Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay is so named because it never comes in contact with any oak. Wine lovers have expressed a shared interest in getting back to what Chardonnay used to be: Clean, crisp, layered, refreshing fruit, a hint of summer, with none of the overbearing heaviness of oak.  If the taste of buttered popcorn is what you crave, you’d do better finding it at the movies than in a bottle of wine.

By taking grapes from excellent vineyards on California’s Central Coast, gently pressing them and fermenting them in stainless steel tanks, Layer Cake produces a wine with the characteristics of some of the greatest white wines including fresh fruit and floral aromas, crisp and refreshing on the palate, plus a long lingering finish.  All of this can be achieved best by not mauling the wine with oak contact.

Layer Cakes Monterey vineyards border the Santa Lucia Highlands.  Shallow granitic soils lend mineral characters and beautiful citrus blossom aromas to the wine.  Cooling winds fill in from Monterey Bay each afternoon, preserving crisp acidity and delicate aromatics.  This is a must drink Chardonnay, Jayson Woodbridge hits yet another grand slam with this “Virgin Chardonnay”.  Extreme value in this wine and Layer Cake wines are now sold at Costco.

Steele Pinot Blanc 2009

Steele Pinot Blanc 2009

2009 Steele Pinot Blanc

As Jed started seeking alternatives to Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc emerged as a personal favorite. This grape is the colorless expression of the red Pinot Noir grape.  The Pinot family have very unstable genetics and the result are the many clones of Pinot Noir, the dusky colored white grape called Pinot Gris and this grape the Pinot Blanc.  Santa Barbara, with its maritime desert climate provides just the right combination of tropical and apple notes, while preserving a crisp acidity that makes it a refreshing food wine.  The grapes are sourced from Bien Nacido Vineyard outside of Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County.  The vines are mature (10+ years) but not old. The vineyard block is one of the westernmost on the property, adjacent to fields of strawberries, cauliflower, and bell peppers.  This end of the vineyard is a little lower in elevation, and most exposed to both fog and coastal breezes.  The fruit is harvested in late September or early October, depending on the year.  Yields rarely exceed three tons per acre. The soil is sandy loam, over a layer of ancient sea bed, filled with shells and fossils.

 Tropical fruit aromas and flavors, as well as peach and melon characteristics and we also find the hallmark green apple character common in Pinot Blanc.  The nose is aromatic with a soft and creamy mid-palate.  Jed ferments his Pinot Blanc in neutral oak barrels, so there is great weight and mouthfeel but the wine is not over oaked.  

2008 Desert Wind Ruah

2008 Desert Wind Ruah

 2008 Desert Wind Ruah

 This wine is crafted from fruit grown on Eastern Washington’s Wahluke Slope, the Desert Wind Ruah is an affirmation of the area’s viticultural prowess.  Their full bodied, Bordeaux-inspired blend is enveloped in a lush core of concentrated blackberry fruit with a hint of anise on the palate.  The wine has hints of toasted oak and spice and a rich garnet color, which is complemented by soft, velvety tannins and a lingering finish.   This wine offers great value and can be found at Costco for under $15.00.

14 Hands Merlot

14 Hands Merlot

 14 Hands Merlot

 The grapes for this wine are sourced from vineyards throughout Washington state, including the Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley and the Wahluke Slope.  The fruit is gently de-stemmed, crushed and then allowed to soak in its cool juice to maximize flavor extraction.  The wine was aged in a combination of American and French oak barrels for 12 months.  Barrels ranged in age from new to 4 years old.  All varieties were vinified and aged separately.  Blending occurred near bottling to enhance mouth-feel and complexity.

 “14 Hands Merlot offers classic Washington aromas of blackberries and black cherries.  Expressive flavors of dark stone fruits are joined by subtle notes of cocoa and toast. While soft and approachable, this wine maintains a sturdy frame of tannins.” A classic Washington State Merlot dominated by notes of blackberries with nuanced hints of cherries and spices to add complexity and depth. Luscious and velvety on the tongue, a very sensual wine.

 Lemon Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Superfine Sugar
  • 2 Lemons, sliced
  • 6 oz Lemon Juice
  • 4 oz Cognac
  • 1 liter seltzer water
  • 1 Bottle Red Wine

Directions:

Cut lemons into slices and add to the mixture of wine, 7 up and Cognac and sugar.

Peach Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle white Wine
  • 3 ounces Brandy
  • 2 ounces Triple Sec
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce Simple Syrup or to taste
  • 3 oz peach puree
  • Fresh sliced peaches or berries for garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients but garnish and chill overnight or at least 8 hours.

Raspberry Mango Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bottle Spanish Red Wine
  • 1 Mango, sliced
  • 2 cups of fresh raspberries (or thawed frozen)
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 3 oz brandy
  • 2 tbsp of suberfine sugar if desired
  • 1 Can club soda

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or pitcher except for the club soda. Let sit in refrigerator over night or at least 8 hours.

Add club soda just before serving.

Classic Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 bottle spanish red wine
  • 1/2 cup cognac
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup chilled seltzer water

Directions:

Wash and slice fruit. Dissolve sugar in cognac and orange luqueur. Add sugar, cognac and orange liqueur and fruit to a pither or punch bowl. Pour in wine. Stir to mix in fruit.

Add seltzer just before serving and add ice cubes if desired.

White Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle fruity white wine (avoid an oaky white)
  • 1 pear
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar ta
  • 1 cup club soda or ginger ale

Directions:

Dissolve sugar in wine and add grand marinier. Wash and thinly slice the fruit. Add to wine. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours at least. 

Add club soda or ginger ale just before serving.

Sangria de Cava

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine)
  • 1 cup orange juice (
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 6 not cinnamon sticks
  • crushed ice
  • mint leaves

Directions:

Put sugar, water and cinnamon sticks in a sauce pan and heat until sugar is dissolved (simmer about 5 minutes).

Let mixture cool and remove cinnamon sticks

Slice fruit and prepare orange juice. Combine all ingredients except for ice and mint, and let chill several hours.

Garnish with mint and serve with ice.

Lambrusco Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 Peach, slived
  • 1 plum, slived
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 bottles of Lambrusco — frizzante red Italian wine
  • 1/2 cup of brandy or fruit schnapps

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher or bowl with ice and serve.

From My Table to Yours™, have a great 4th of July and I hope you enjoy these wonderful Sangria delights!

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"