State of the Vine

State of the Vine

Bordeaux: A great rainy day wine

Bordeaux is great wine to drink on a rainy day! 

The Chateau Plaisance 2014 comes from St. Emilion on the right bank of Bordeaux in France, which means it is made mostly of Merlot grapes. Wines that come from the left bank are predominately Cabernet Sauvignon.

This one is blended with 20% Cab Sauv and 10% Petit Verdot and is classified as a second tier wine, a Bordeaux Superieur, which is one level up from regional, the most basic classification. The second best is Cru Bourgeois, and the best, Grand Cru.

With Cru Bourgeois, the vintage (year) of the wines are tasted by a panel who decide if the wine from that heat is worthy of this classification. Grand Cru wines are actually based on a designation established in 1855.

This wine is spicy and has a nose and palate of blackberry and black cherry with a little oak and smooth tannins. It pairs very nicely with grilled meats and hamburgers, and is quite nice to drink on its own as well.

It retails for around $20 and was part of the Screwtop Wine Bar wine club last month. Cheers! 

This wine was imported and distributed by Kysela Père et Fils.

Ostatu Rioja Blanco: A True Gem

The Bodegas Ostatu Blanco 2016 Rioja comes from Rioja Alavesa, one of the three sub-regions of Rioja in Spain.

Most Riojas are red wines made with the Tempranillo grape, Rioja Blanco only makes up about 10% of the region’s production, which makes this wine a total gem!

Rioja Blanco must be made with at least 51% Viura grapes, and this one is made with a blend of that and Malvasia, making a light, refreshing and dry wine with a nose and palate of citrus, and a long finish.

This wine comes from vineyards that are between 30 and 80 years old! Ostatu is a family owned winery in Samaniego that is over 200 years old.

Most of these wines are meant to be consumed young or fresh, but a small percentage are aged in oak and have more nutty and oaky flavors.

The Ostatu has not been aged and is meant to be enjoyed right away. Although, you could age it for 4-6 years.

It's available at Arrowine in Arlington and is a total steal at $16 a bottle.

Imported by DeMaison Selections, also the importer of the amazing Txakolina Rose I had in New Orleans, and based in Chapel Hill, NC, my hometown. Cheers!

Kerner: An aromatic white

Another new grape varietal to check off my list, Kerner! Kerner is a cross between the Riesling grape, a white wine grape, and Vernatsch, a red wine grape.

The 2013 Eisacktaler Kellerei - Cantina Valle Isarco is a full-bodied aromatic white wine with notes of nectarines and peaches and nice minerality and balance.

The Valle Isarco in Italy's Trentio Alto Adige region closely borders Austria so oftentimes,  the 'Valle Isarco' name on bottles of wine from here will be also labeled with its German-language equivalents Eisacktal or Eisacktaler, according to Wine Searcher.

Picked this up at Oby Lee Winery in Arlington. I always find little gems there, and they have great food as well, especially the crepes. Cheers!

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

Super excited to check another grape varietal off my list, and visit an awesome wine bar in DC at the same time!

At Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar I had the Viña do Campo 2015, from Bodegas Do Campo in Galicia, Spain at  in DC. This wine is made with the Godello grape and is a dry and full bodied white that's refreshing and perfect for spring-summer!

The Castello di Bossi Rosato is a dark rose from Tuscany made with 70% Sangiovese and, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with notes of cranberry and cherry and a dry finish. This is a fuller bodied rose that pairs well with many different foods.

The Domaine Gouron Chinon Rouge 2015 is a red wine made with Cabernet-Franc grapes from the Loire Valley region in France. It has notes of cherry, strawberry and oak on the nose and plummy with notes of currant and spice on the palate.

And an excellent burger and fries, which would pair with either the Chinon or the rose. Scrumptious! 

Cheers! And visit Sonoma!

Wine Conversations: Danny Lledo, Slate Wine Bar, Part One

If you haven't made it to Slate Wine Bar, nestled between Georgetown and American Universities in Washington, DC, you're missing out. This place is a total gem.

I was super excited to sit down with Slate's chef and Sommelier Danny Lledo at the wine bar for a conversation about Slate's story and how he came to work in the business.

Lledo grew up with both food and wine as a large part of his life and comes from Spanish and Portuguese heritage. His family even owns a vineyard and farm in Portugal!

He started off as a financial advisor and said it wasn't fulfilling, and wanted to do something he was more passionate about. So after meeting Elizabeth Banker, the founder and owner of Slate, he came on board to run day-to-day operations.

But, when Slate's chef left unexpectedly, Lledo had the opportunity to take over, and he did. He began making seasonal changes to the menu and it developed organically from there. Lledo said he is very proud of the dinner menu now (which he should be, the food here is excellent).

Scallops and Polenta

He said that while he has incorporated some of his family heritage into his cooking, the dinner menu is more new-American and French. However, his seafood Paella won first place in a cooking competition last year in California. He said he is going back this year to compete again!

Lledo said one of the best parts of working in the business is getting to know his customers. He even crafts menus for special occasions, noting that on the day I interviewed him, he was making a suckling pig for the dinner menu as a special request, and a birthday cake, for one of his customers and her family.

Slate's versatility is one of the things Lledo said he is most proud of. It can be a great spot for affordable food and wine (with two happy hours, even on the weekends), or customers can opt for the three and five course dinner menus.

And one of my favorite things is they have several rotating wine flights and many wines by the glass, that are all pretty unique and come from a wide range of countries. Lledo stressed the importance of a global perspective for his wine list. (Their house rose, the Bodegas Castano from the Yecla region of Spain, made with Monastrell grapes, is the best house wine I've had yet).

They also carry more high-end wines by the bottle, for customers that are seeking that out.

Chardonnay is Lledo's favorite. At his suggestion, I even tried a Chardonnay from Alexana Winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley, which is hands-down the best Chardonnay I ever had, and I am not ordinarily a Chardonnay drinker really at all.

Slate also has several events coming up, with regular wine tastings and dinners. Lledo said this helps introduce his customers to new grapes and new regions (something I also love).

This is part one of my conversation with him. Part two will be coming soon. Make sure to stop by Slate soon for excellent food and wine. Cheers!

Pecorino: a refreshing and under-rated Italian wine

If you want to try a new white wine from Italy, Pecorino is a great choice!

Pecorino is an Italian white grape that was thought to be extinct until the 1980's when some of its vines were rediscovered! It's primarily grown in the Abruzzo and Marches regions of Italy and reportedly hardly ever leaves the country because it's not considered as marketable, which is a total crime if you ask me.

The Cantine Galasso Corno Grande Pecorino is refreshing and dry, but not too dry. A floral nose, with some minerality and notes of citrus fruits and jasmine.

This wine pairs well with oysters, other seafood and salami, and the cheese which has the same name!

It retails for under $10 a bottle, which is a total steal. I tried this wine at the Cosmos Club in Washington. Cheers!