Saturday, October 27, 2018

#MerlotMe Month Wraps Up with Food & Wine Pairings

As we approach the end of International Merlot month with #MerlotMe I've made it through a variety of merlot with some pairings.  Today I'm sharing merlot from Duckhorn Vineyards, Markham Vineyards and Northstart Winery.  I'd love to hear what merlot wines you celebrated with this month and what your recommendations are.   

2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley 
ABV 14.6% SRP $26.99 
Markham Vineyards is celebrating their 40th year and 35th wine release.   
Founded in 1978 by Bruce Markham and was a winery originally established by Jean Laurent during the days of the Gold Rush.  The winery owns 350 acre across a number of Napa Valley's premier winegrowing sites each lending their own characteristics to the wines.  

Markham Vineyards owns about 350 acres in Napa Valley.  This merlot is sourced from a number of their vineyards in Yountville, Oak Knoll and Calistoga.  Each vineyards lends their own traits with Yountville lending bing cherry aromas, Oak Knoll provides the sour cherry notes and Caslistoga gives more of the jammy fruit flavors.  It’s a blend of 86% merlot, 12 % cabernet sauvignon and 2% petite syrah.  100% fermented in stainless steel and 15 months aged in barrel of which 28% is new oak.  Dark ruby.  Vanilla and dark chocolate on the nose.  Cherry flavors with chewy tannins. 

Pairing: I paired this wine with a sausage tomato tortellini soup.
2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot
The following 3 wines are from Duckhorn Vineyards located in Napa Valley. The winery just last year celebrated their 40th anniversary and has been showcasing their prize merlots since 1979.  Their grapes are sourced from 7 different vineyard sites each lending their own unique characteristics to each bottle.  Founder, Dan Duckhorn, best describes some of the reasons why merlot is so special "I liked the softness, the seductiveness, the color, the fact that it went with a lot of different foods; It seemed to me to be a wonderful wine to just enjoy. I became enchanted with Merlot."
Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot

2016 Decoy Merlot Sonoma County 
ABV 13.9% SRP $25 
Made up of 97% merlot with 3% added cabernet sauvignon.  It’s aged 100% in French oak with 40% new and 60% neutral.  A nicely balanced wine with smooth tannins, blueberries, cherry and vanilla notes.  

Pairing: I paired this wine with some butternut squash chicken ravioli. 
butternut squash chicken ravioli pairing with merlot
2015 Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley 
ABV 14.5% SRP $56 
Grown in Duckhorn’s estate vineyards and additional independent growers.  Made of 85% merlot, 12% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.  This wine shows elegance with dark fruit flavors as well as juicy red fruits.  Notes of baking spices with vanilla.  Well integrated tannins with a silky finish.
2015 Duckhorn Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley 
ABV 14.7% SRP $98 
The Three Palms Vineyard is their single vineyard merlot and is the "crown jewel" of their portfolio.  They finally acquired this land in 2015 after having sourced grapes from there for years.  Named after the three palm trees on site this wine is made of 91% merlot, 7% cabernet sauvignon, 1.5% petit verdot and ½ percent of cabernet franc.  This wine and the 2014 vintage was actually named "Wine of the Year" by Wine Spectator in 2017.  Aged 18 months in French oak of which 75% is new and 25% neutral.  A complex and intense merlot rich of dark berries, plums, cassis, spice and cocoa.  Silky tannins and a long lasting finish to be savored long after the last sip.   

Pairing:  It just so happened that I celebrated my birthday last week so my mother came and made me some amazing stuffed peppers and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try this special wine.
2015 Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palm Vineyards Merlot
2013 Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley
ABV 14.5% SRP $41 
Out of all the wines I’ve tried for International Merlot month this was the only one outside CA and is based in Columbia Valley, WA, the largest AVA of the state.  The winery is based on the same latitude of Bordeaux, probably the most well known region in the world for producing world class merlot.  The winery was established in the 1990’s and they released their first vintage in 1994.  Quite a difference from the merlot of CA as I found this merlot to be more rustic, less fruit forward.  Upon opening the cocoa jumped out of the glass and needed a little time to open up.  A full-bodied wine with jammy dark fruits with lots of structure.  Still plenty of time to age this in the bottle and to be enjoyed in years to come.
2013 Northstar Winery Merlot Columbia Valley


*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.

Friday, October 12, 2018

You Had Me at #MerlotMe with Ca'Momi

Another year has passed and the time has come for another month full of merlot.  Every October our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) group celebrates International Merlot Month that began back in 2012.  It’s our opportunity to sample wine from a large variety of winery participants that take part in this event.  This year I’ve been blessed with the chance to try a number of merlot bottles from a variety of producers including Duckhorn, Ca’ Momi and Markham Vineyards.  All the wines shared hail from California where merlot is the 3rd leading red grape grown.  I even will be trying NorthStar Merlot from Columbia Valley, WA this month.  So grab a glass of merlot and join us in the fun!

2016 Ca’ Momi Merlot Napa Valley
ABV 13.5% SRP $19.99
The winery was started in 2006 by 3 Italians: Stefano Migotto, Dario De Conti and Valentina Guolo-Migotto.  It's name represents the "House of Momi", which is an important landmark in the owner's mother country. Growing their grapes in Wild Horse Valley and the Carneros district.

Made from 100% merlot.  This wine was full of juicy red berries.  A medium-bodied wine with nice bright acidity up front with plush tannins.  Finishing with vanilla notes.  This wine is aged 8 months in both French and American oak.  
2015 Ca'Momi Merlot
I paired this wine with a classic roast chicken dish and I also tried it the next night with a creamy parmesan herb chicken mushroom pasta.  It went well with either dish, but I actually enjoyed it with the simplicity of a roasted chicken.
creamy parmesan mushroom chicken pasta
2013 Ca’ Momi Merlot Reserve Carneros Napa Valley
ABV 14.5% SRP $44.00
This is the 1st release of their reserve wine for Ca’ Momi.  It hails from the Carneros district of Napa Valley.  A full-bodied wine with much depth and complexities.  Rich, ripe fruit full of raspberries, plums and blackberries.  The wine needed to open up a bit since when I first opened it the tannins  jumped out to say hello ; ).  As it had an opportunity to open up the tannin became well integrated into the wine backed with good acidity. 
2013 Ca'Momi Merlot Reserve Carneros Napa Valley

I paired this wine with a hearty beef bourguignon in the slow cooker.  Slow cooker meals are a life saver some days.  I did also try it with the chicken dish, but it stood up much better to the beef.  It's depth and body stood up well to the spice and beef in the dish.
slow cooker beef bourguignon
Join in our merlot conversation this Saturday at 11am EST on Twitter at #WinePW.  Read on for many fantastic food and wine pairings with merlot.

    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Love for the Wines of Lugana

A couple years back I was invited to a wine tasting in Boston fully dedicated to the white wines of Lugana.  It was quite a pleasant surprise to discover the beauty of these wines that aren’t often enough at the top of every winelover’s list.  Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is exploring what these wines are all about including the wide variety of styles and how ageworthy they are.

Lugana is a wine region located on the southern tip of Lake Garda.  It’s in northern Italy and borders both the Veneto and Lombardy regions.  It’s comprised of the following towns: Sirmione, Pozzolengo, Desenzano, Londato del Garda and Peschiara del Garda, with the latter being the only to reside in the Veneto.  It’s a short trip from the major cities of Brescia and Verona.  I ventured over to Peschiera del Garda for the first time on my last adventure to Italy over a year ago. 
The area of Lugana was once completely covered as a forest, known as “Selva Lucana”, probably hence where the name came form.  When the glaciers came down from the alpine region it formed Lake Garda and created the unique morainic soils.      

Wines from Lugana are primarily made from the turbiana grape also known as trebbiano di lugana.  There is a 10% allowance of other non-aromatic white grapes, but many producers are making these wines with 100% turbiana.   The regular wines of Lugana can typically only be aged about 2-3 years, but the others including the superior and riserva wines have capabilities to be aged 10+ years. 
Turbiana grapes - Copywright of Selva Capuzza

There are 5 different styles of Lugana: regular, Superiore, Riserva, Late Harvest and Sparkling.  The regular wines of Lugana make up 90% of the production of the Lugana DOC.  The wines made in the Peschiera del Garda area actually produce about 60% of the wines in the area.  I’m sharing one from the regular style Lugana and one from the late harvest, known as vendemmia tardiva.
Copyright of Selva Capuzza

Luca Formentini of Selva Capuzza - Copyright of Selva Capuzza
The wine from Lugana I’m sharing today is from Selva Capuzza in the Lombardy region.  It’s location is situated of the site of the important Italian battle, San Martino e Solferino, that took place in 1859.  The 2013 Podere Selva Capuzza Lugana DOC is their wine they make with pride and is sourced from their highest and oldest vineyard.  A wine that is fresh and rich with florals and fruit combined with mineral notes.  13% ABV SRP
Copyright of Selva Capuzza
The other wine I’m sharing is the 2011 Tenuta Roveglia Filo di Arianna Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva DOC.  This wine is harvested late October to early November allowing the grapes to fully concentrate before they are hand picked.  The wine is aged 12-14 months in oak barrels.  It’s a wine of full body with almond notes seeming silky on the palate.  13.5% ABV SRP    

Tenuta Roveglia was started by a Swiss businessman by the name of Federico Zweifel when he relocated to the area at the end of 19th century. Four generations later his family continues to carry on the production and traditions of the winery as it stands today.
Copyright of Tenuta Roveglia

Copyright of Tenuta Roveglia
See what my fellow bloggers have to say about Lugana wine:

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.