The Gifts of Horse Heavens Hills

This post reviews two red wines from the Mercer label, and they include the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2014 Red Blend. The grapes that comprise these wines are grown in vineyards located in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation of course, this appellation is located in Washington state.

2014 Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon: No surprise that if the Mercer whites reviewed in a previous post were the product of a hot growing season, then the reds developed in the same hot environment Aromas of smoke, candied cherries, ripe blackberries, and spice greeted the nose; similar flavors were observed in the mouth the an oak note on the finish. We found this Cabernet Sauvignon to be quite accessible; however, we opened at least 30 minutes before serving with strip steak and roasted potatoes.

2014 Mercer Canyons Red Blend: We enjoyed this one quite a bit and dubbed it a crowd pleaser. Merlot leads the blend (59%) that includes Syrah (16%), Grenache (10%), Sangiovese (6%), Petit Verdot (6%), and Viognier (2%). Smoky notes led on the nose followed by ripe red fruit and spicy aromas. The palate recalled mixed berry jam which lingered quite a while; dusty tannins provided structure. I enjoyed this one with lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and thyme. Feel free to keep this Red Blend on hand for summer fare done on the grill and lightly coated with barbecue sauce.

We thank Brenda Mercer, marketing manager for Mercer’s wines, for giving us the opportunity to sample the wines (and thus the terroir of their slice of the Horse Heavens Hills appellation.) Please seek out these wines at your wine shop or their website and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

A Taste of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA

We experienced wines from the Horse Heavens Hills AVA recently. Loyal readers may be asking where in Virginia is the Horse Heavens Hills AVA? It is actually located in Washington state along the Columbia River, and the wines that we sampled were from Mercer Estates Winery, a family-owned winery . The Mercer family has owned the property since 1886 and started producing wine from the estate in 2005. We offer our reviews of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Chardonnay in this post.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc: This was produced from a very hot growing season, and initial notes trended toward tropical with a whiff of cut grass. A few swirls of the glass presented grapefruit aromas. Grapefruit flavors and a zesty finish made for a refreshing display on the palate. We enjoyed this Sauvignon Blanc with honey goat cheese and baguette. This is a nice wine for warm weather; enjoy on its own or paired with gamey cheeses, fresh fruit, or shellfish.

2015 Chardonnay: Of course, this too was the product of a hot growing season. Chardonnay grapes in this bottling come from the best locations in the Horse Heavens Hills. I am not an ABCer (Anything But Chardonnay); in fact, I love Chardonnay. Needless to say, I looked forward to sampling this one. Pineapple and lime notes were complemented by juicy pear and apple flavors with oak nuances on the finish. I also savored the fuller mouth feel, and it was the perfect partner with roasted chicken served aside mashed potatoes.

We also sampled two red wines from Mercer, and our impressions of those wines will be posted in a later feature. We thank Brenda Mercer for introducing us to these lovely wines, and we encourage readers to seek out these wines at your local wine shop or order them from their website. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time recommended them.

Pinot and Pasta and Parties Oh My!

Renaissance man Paul Sorvino known for his role in Goodfellas but also a noted operatic tenor, sculptor and cook teams up with wife Dee Dee, herself an accomplished award winning television personality to produce Pinot, Pasta and Parties; this is a cookbook which presents Italian recipes with Paul’s personal flare. I am always on the lookout for well-organized cookbook that present easy-to-follow directions and suggested menus. This one certainly fits the bill, and I thought that I would share my thoughts for readers who want to consider this cookbook.

The book’s thematic organization is its best feature. Chapters entitled “Made in America”, “La La Land”, and “Patriotism at Play” allow the cook to find a go-to menu for the right occasion. The menus themselves are complete from starters to desert and are very easy to follow. Is there something on the menu that doesn’t appeal to your particular palate or looking for an alternative to something on the set menu? No problem. The Sorvinos offer an alternative dish for each menu. For example, the La La Land themed menu that features such dishes as figs in a blanket, California veggie pizza, swordfish with olives and pasta primavera offers eggs in purgatory and stuffed peppers as alternatives.

Dee Dee Sorvino offers her skills as mixologist to present a special cocktail for each themed menu. Appalachia Magic, a mix of moonshine, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon bitters and star anise, complements the Made in America menu which features such delights as spaghetti western mac and cheese, meatball slider, and Paul’s special chili. Hosting a Goodfellas Feast? Dee Dee recommends The Goodfella, a blend of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Scotch, Cognac, land limoncello.

The Sorvinos also add a personal touch to the cook book. In addition to an introduction of themselves, each chapter includes a story about themselves, their relationship, and their passion for food, art and entertainment. Photos of themselves throughout the book enhance the personal element and the cook gets to know them both as individuals and as a couple.

I must, however, comment on the lack of suggested wine pairings with the menus. The title of the cookbook begins with the word Pinot; however, Pinot or any other varietal is never mentioned as a recommended pairing with the food. And we are all about wine and food here at Virginia Wine Time! There is an appendix at the end which provides description of Italian wine grapes, and that is it. I also don’t know that I would venture into the political theme suggested in the Patriotism at Play menu. In these times, a respite from political discussions (which usually lead to arguments) during a dinner party might be a good idea; I would adapt that chapter to suggest a July 4th gathering in which everyone can agree that celebrating American independence is always a good idea!

If you are in search of a cookbook that presents Italian dishes from starter to desert, then Pinot, Pasta, and Parties might be worth seeking out. You may also enjoy getting to know more about Paul and Dee Dee Sorvino. Remember, though, Virginia Wine Time recommended it!

Next Stop California!

So we continue our travels via the wine bottle thanks to Locations Wine, and this time we taste a white blend from California fittingly labeled, CA.

CA manages to meld both Old and New World styles. On both the nose and palate, it suggests the weight of a Napa inspired white wine; indeed, it is barrel aged in 30% new French oak in addition to fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Therefore, it presents a crisp entry with fruity flavors of pear, stone fruit and citrus. It finishes with a nutty element as well as a fuller mouth feel. Take time to note its lovely aromas of butterscotch, pear and lemon peel. In a way, it seemsto merge California and the Rhone region of France into a wine bottle. Who says white wines can’t be complex? CA is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Roussane; growers hale from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. Food pairings? I enjoyed this one with roasted chicken with mashed potatoes. Herbed pork roast, dishes topped with cream sauce, goat cheeses on a toasted baguette—-you get the picture (or the menu ideas.)

We again thank Balzac Communications for this lush blend. Search for CA at your local wine shop, but please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Location of Corse!

We were privileged to receive two more wines from the Locations lineup, and these were both white wines that included a Corsican Veremtino and a blend labeled CA (from California of course.) In this post, we review Corse, the Vermentino wine produced from the island of Corsica. We again thank Balzac Communications for the opportunity to enjoy these wines.

Quite simply, we both adored this wine. On the nose, I noted aromas of spring blossoms, lime, orange zest, and shale; flavors of pear, lime and citrus zest led to a full and fruity palate followed by a crisp finish. Corse fully expresses a Mediterranean climate with its cool, breezy nights and warm, dry days. Did Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica’s most famous native, enjoy this Vermentino with his favorite meal—-chicken and pasta with parmesan cheese? We hope so, and I thought of Napoleon when I prepared dinner. Crab cakes were on the menu, but I did toss some bowtie pasta with butter and parmesan cheese to serve as a side dish It proved to be a lovely pairing!

We had not enjoyed Corsican wines, but I must say that this first impression was a hit. Seek out Corse at your local wine shop, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you. However, we are not done with Vermentino. In a future post, we compare Corse with a Virginia-made Vermentino; we’ll keep readers in suspense about that one. And what about CA? Stay tuned.