What To Drink After Moscato

By Maggie Walters

I've been asked quite often about the progression of wine, specifically, moving slowly towards drier styles from Moscato.

Moscato is sweet, refreshing, spritzy, light and fruity. This wine pairs well with homemade strawberry short cake with fresh strawberries (it's almost that time of year folks). But sometimes you want something else with a little more body and structure, but no where near as robust as Napa Cabernet. 

While it may seem like wine comes in 2 styles: super sweet or super dry, I'm here to tell you that these "in between" wines exist! They are friendly, fruity and do not express harshness or sourness. 

Below are my 3 recommendations:

J. Lohr, Wildflower Valdiguie

Monterey California

  • Serve slightly chilled
  • This is a luscious, fruit-forward wine that has a sweet, juicy finish

Leonard Kreusch, Dornfelder "Sweet Red"

Rheinhessen, Germany

  • Serve slightly chilled
  • This is a fruity, dark and velvety red wine that is considered "sweet," but less sweet than Moscato. 

Kung fu Girl, Riesling

Washington State

  • This is an "off dry" white wine (meaning in between dry and sweet). 
  • White stone fruit, white peach apricot, cool, refreshing and delicious.

Some people may snub their noses at wines being sweet, but they can be great food pairing wines when something on the table is spicy.  Think Indian food, Thai food, Spicy Cajun food (hello crawfish boil), and so on!  

Enjoy!

What A Wine Geek Drinks On A Budget – Volume 2

By Maggie Walters

I wrote a blog just over a month ago about what a wine geek drinks on a budget, and I received so much positive feedback that I decided to write another one! It was such a pleasure to meet everyone who stopped by Colonial for the "hidden gems" wines, and I'm really excited to share this next list of wines.


WINE #1

Domaine Sainte-Eugenie – Corbieres, France

$12.99 – 13.5% Alcohol  •   Grapes: Old Vine Carignan, Grenache, Syrah

The Languedoc is one of my favorite areas in France to seek out value wines. They have been making wine for quite some time and really know what they're doing. All of the vines going into this wine have an average age of 50 years (which is an art to maintain on its own). This is a full-bodied wine with heavy, luscious tannins. Red and dark fruits and berries present themselves on the palate, followed by baking spices (star anise, allspice, orange rind) and violets.

I can NOT believe that this wine costs what it does, I would choose to drink this over several higher priced wines out there. 

Pairing suggestions: grilled or roasted meats. Also pairs well with fuzzy socks and a good book.


WINE #2

Barkan Classic – Israel

$11.99 – 13% Alcohol  •  Grape: Pinot Noir

A Pinot Noir from Israel!  I know, I know, you had no idea there was a wine region in Israel (kuddos to you if you did). This Pinot Noir definitely took me by surprise when I had a glass with my dinner at the Pantry (they're pouring it by the glass), and it made me go back for more. If I tasted this wine blind I honestly wouldn't have guessed it was a Pinot. It's dark and concentrated in color, and heavier on the palate than I expected. Soft and velvety tannins follow bright acidity and carry flavors like stewed strawberries, sweet black cherries, chocolate, and a touch of mint.  

Pairing suggestions: Broiled salmon and roasted chicken dishes. Also pairs well with warm bubble baths. 


WINE #3

Charles & Charles – Art Den Hoed Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington

$12.99 – 12% Alcohol  •  Grape: Riesling

I can NOT say enough positive things about this wine. First of all this winery has so much love for their grapes. This is a high altitude, single vineyard in Washington (which means they don't buy their grapes from anyone, or anywhere else, like a lesser vineyard site) aka this isn't cheap plonk! The grapes are hand harvested at night and transported in a temperature controlled vehicle that doesn't allow fermentation to start until the vintner is ready for the process to begin. This allows the wine to retain pure, clean, and refreshing qualities and show off a bouquet of delicate aromatics. Whew, enough about the practices, lets talk about how tasty this wine is. This wine is technically classified as an off-dry riesling, although if there was a classification between off-dry and dry, this wine would be it, it is full of bright, mouth watering, refreshing acidity, that the kiss of residual sugar present is not in the forefront. On the palate you get zingy lemon, apricot, and honeysuckle with a hint of minerality reminiscent of wet river rocks. The flavor is refreshing and lingering. 

Pairing suggestions:  Foods with a little kick, like Asian or Indian dishes as well as seafood! Also pairs well with good friends and conversation!


WINE #4

Santi Solane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore – Veneto, Italy

$14.99

 

I think this is the hidden gem I am most proud of! Boy was I shocked when I cracked this bottle open on a random Wednesday night to drink with my pasta. Valpolicella superiore Ripasso is known affectionately as "a poor man's Amarone." This style beefs up simple Valpolicella with some grapes previously used for Amarone. This is a medium bodied wine full of complexity and richness that will make you rejoice with the absolute value that this wine is! This wine showcases dried cherries, spice and earthiness that will accompany heartier dishes.

Pairing suggestions: Steak, mushrooms, earthier flavored dishes, and pastas with red meaty sauce. Pairs well with a leather sofa and a warm, crackling fire. 


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WINE #5

Marques de Caceres Verdejo – Rueda, Spain   

$13.99

This is for the Sauvignon Blanc lovers out there! Rueda is the region and the grape grown here is Verdejo (commonly blended with Sauvignon Blanc, but not listed on the label). This wine is everything you want in an aromatic, fresh fruity light white wine! This wine expresses vegetal notes like fresh cut grass, lime, peach, and melon.

Pairing suggestions: seafood dishes, greens with vinaigrette dressing, and light proteins with cream sauces. The acidity will cut through the creaminess and the fattiness of the sauces. Also pairs well with front porches and sunshine!

 

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price. Products and prices are subject to change.

What A Wine Geek Drinks On A Budget

By Maggie Walters

Time and time again I get asked (usually rather sheepishly) for wine recommendations under $15. I do not think that this is a request to be embarrassed about, nor does the price of the wine denote the quality of the wine.

I thought I would share a few inexpensive wines that I enjoy. These are hidden gems! I almost feel like it's a game I play with my fellow wine nerds – who can find the next delicious wine that's not very well known and doesn't break the bank? With all the hustle and bustle in life, who can prioritize their money for wine? There's no shame in being responsible adults, or having a need for delicious wine!


Wine #1

Garnacha de Fuego Old Vine Garnacha, Spain       

$9.99  – 14.5% ABV  •  100% Grenache

First, let's address the elephant in the room; yes, it is a tacky label, but don't judge a book by its cover here! This wine is SO good, and it's only $10 bucks! This old vine garnacha from Calatayud does not disappoint. On the palate you get ripe juicy fruits like raspberry, blueberry and plum; mouthwatering acidity; and a hint of star anise. There's also a nice peppery sensation from the alcohol that's very warming. Quick tidbit of wine knowledge: they've been making wine here since 200 BC. 

This wine is great for anyone who loves the big, bold and heavy Pinot Noir that one sees out of California. 

PAIRING: Any grilled food (the fruit balances well with smokey flavors) or drink on its own.


Wine #2

Domaine Laroque, Cite de Carcassonne, France

$10.99  –  13.5% ABV  •  100% Cabernet Franc

This wine has brightness, silky tannins and minerality wrapped up in a beautiful, medium-bodied wine. On the palate you will get bright red fruit like cranberries and cherries, bright acidity, black peppercorns, brambly fruits and red currant. 

Where the grenache was all heavy luscious fruit, this is bright and uplifting. 

PAIRING: Chicken & fish dishes; refreshes the palate.


Wine #3

Penya Rosé from Cotes Catalanes, France       

$11.99  –  13% ABV  •  96% Grenache Noir, 4% Syrah

Provence rosé lovers rejoice, this is a wine for you that won't cost an arm and a leg! Bright and full of acidity like rosés from the south of France should be. You'll get fresh fruits and melons on the palate like strawberry, watermelon and citrus. This is an IGP wine so the price tag does not come with it, but it is not lacking in flavor.


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Wine #4

Domaine Du Tariquet Cotes de gascogne, France     

$10.99  –  10.5% ABV  •  45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon, 10% Gros Manseng

What a gluggable, fruity, white wine!! Yum! This wine actually comes from Armagnac believe it or not. These grapes are usually distilled into the delicious brandy we all know and love, except for a few guys swimming against the tide, turning these grapes into wine. It is fruity, bright and lively. 

For those of you who enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, this is going to be a new go to.

PAIRING: Great on its own or enjoy with small bites.


Wine #5

Segura Viudas Brut Estate Bottled Cava, Spain      

$9.99  –  12% ABV  •  Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Paralleda, and Chardonnay

Champagne lovers celebrate!!! This is a delicious sparkling wine that is amazing and oh so affordable!

Wines from Spain, in general, are so strikingly under-priced it's not even funny. This is made in the same exact method as Champagne, so there's no skimping on the vigorous bubbles. Just like there are three French grapes in Champagne, there are three Spanish grapes in Cava, and the name of the wine gets its name from the region as well.

This is a great wine to know of when it comes time to entertain. Just because you're entertaining on a budget doesn't mean you have to serve your guests bad wine.

PAIRING: Drink it alone or pair it with small bites and seafood. 


I hope this article is helpful and inspires you to try new wines. There are some amazing wines out there for every budget. Just because the name of the wine may be unfamiliar (or the label may be less than ideal) does not mean that it's not worth trying. Who knows, it could be your next hidden gem!

Happy Drinking!

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price.

TRIBUTE TO A WINEMAKER AND HER SPARKLING WINE

By Maggie Walters

I recently had the opportunity to work at a champagne/sparkling wine event. Not only were the wines spectacular, but the people representing them were as well. 

There is one representative, in particular, that stood out to me.  I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Fontaine from Domaine Chandon, who is one of the youngest winemakers in the world right now, and a woman at that! As a lady starting out in this beautiful world of wine myself, this was a highlight of my career thus far.  

Fontaine is impressive. She grew up in wine country in the south of France and received her National Diploma of Oenology (study of wine), as well as a Masters of Science in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Bordeaux. She was hand-picked to be a winemaker out of 700 applicants, and is one of three female winemakers at Domaine Chandon in Napa. All three winemakers are women, and they are all from France. They strive to hold their winemaking to the standards of French winemakers, but in a California style. How can you not love this winery?? 

Fontaine oversees the day to day operations in the cellar including blending, creating some of the tastiest sparkling wines coming out of California, many of which are under $30 (under $20 if you catch them on sale!).

Now that you know about Fontaine and the winery, let's talk about some of the wines!

Just like in Champagne, France, the three grape varieties used to make these wines are Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier and Chardonnay. They are using the same classic grapes, and fermentation process, just creating a more unique, California style wine. 

Their flagship wines are: 

Chandon Brut

Brut is their classic, dry bubbly that refreshes the palate and expresses a flavor profile of apple, pear and citrus flavors.

Chandon Rosé

Their rosé expresses more fruit flavors with the additional contact of grape skins, which gives it a beautiful hue of pink. This delicious bubbly expresses intense ripe strawberry, juicy watermelon and fresh red cherry fruit aromas and flavors.

Blanc de Noir

This wine is made completely from red grapes, but the skins are immediately separated from the juice, leaving it very light in color, but complex in flavor. In the glass you will find cherry, currant and strawberry aromas and flavors. These red fruit flavors build in the mid-palate and finish with a soft, lingering creamy texture.

Chandon Extra Dry Riche

The Extra Dry Riche, is their softer, and sweeter sparkling wine. This bubbly is blended with muscat, lending a luscious and fruitier style. On the nose is an inviting floral bouquet followed on the palate by rich, honeyed fruit flavors of peach and apricot. This is great for wine lovers who find brut wines a little too austere and acidic! 

Domaine Chandon also has two amazing Cuvees that are laid down for 5 years before release. Believe it or not, these special blends are less than $50! 

These Wines are:

Etoile Brut

This wine lends a bouquet of ginger and brown spice. On the palate, baked apples, honey and cinnamon flavors meld with nutty, creamy flavors gained from extended sur lie aging (time on yeast). This a very balanced wine of pleasing creaminess and refreshing acidity. 

 Etoile Rosé

"The wine is elegant and restrained with fresh aromas of plum, raspberry and nutmeg. These aromas follow through on the palate and are layered with subtle and delicate flavors of cocoa powder. The wine finishes with excellent length and richness." – Domaine Chandon

In addition to being great wines both in taste and production, they are excellent food pairing wines. From sashimi, to popcorn, and even roasted lamb, there is a wine here for your menu. Plus, who doesn't love some bubbly? It just makes life a little more cheerful, and of course great for the holidays!

I really hope you enjoy these wines as much as I do and support the women of the wine industry! 

 Cheers!

FEATURING RIESLING 3 WAYS


By Maggie Walters

Why Riesling will be your hero for food pairings this season. 

First of all, I want to address the elephant in the room: Riesling. I feel like this wine has gotten a bad reputation and a misconception that this is a sickly sweet wine that rivals moscato. 

To debunk this myth, let me introduce you to some amazing wines ranging from bone-dry and acidity-driven to a late harvest, all of which will pair well with a large spread of foods. 

 

Wine #1

2013 Anne Amie Estate Dry Riesling, Yamhill- Carlton, Oregon

About this wine: Aged in stainless steel and fermented at a low temperature, this wine possesses a clean and crisp quality that refreshes the palate and keeps the mouth watering for more. 

The nose reveals aromas of lemon drops, unripe peaches and kiwi. On the palate, the wine expresses candied lemon peel, key lime, and honey crisp apple with a wet river rock quality that shows off the minerality for which Yamhill is known. This is a bone-dry wine, so if you like a little pucker in your glass (hence the lemon) this is going to be right up your alley!

Why this mouthwatering acidity-driven wine is good for food pairing: Any food that is heavier and full of flavor will be refreshed with this wine. Look at it as a palate cleanser, getting you ready for the next bite (but much more enjoyable that eating spoonfuls of sorbet!)

Wine #2

2013 Eroica Riesling by Chateau St. Michelle & Dr. Loosen, Columbia Valley Washington

About this wine: One really unique thing that Chateau St. Michelle has done for this wine was team up with Dr. Loosen, who is a Riesling specialist/wine maker in Germany (home to some of the best Riesling in the world). Often, red wine makers are trying to create styles that mimic those found in France, with Riesling producers trying to mimic Germany. They have got it going on!

This is an off-dry wine that offers sweet lime, pear and tangerine notes on the nose, with hints of minerality. 
On the palate, the fruit flavors of ripe pear and stone fruit are quite pleasant, and balance the bright acidity that follows. The balance of the riper fruit creates a less intense "pucker" sensation.  

Why this balance of slight sweetness and predominant acidity is great for food pairing: Like the previous wine, the acidity present will provide a palate cleansing effect--but with the added ripe fruit characteristic, this wine will balance anything with added richness and spice. Think of this effect like a glass of milk, but much tastier! So if Aunt Martha gets a little over zealous with the red pepper flakes, or if you have done away with tradition, and Chinese/Indian/Thai takeout is your feast of choice, this will go amazingly well!

Wine #3

St. Urbans-Hof Goldtropfchen Piesport Spätlese

About this wine: "This radiant Spätlese is everything that a Mosel can and should be. The nose offers focused notes of stewed apples, apricots and Granny Smith, accentuated by wet stone. The same flavors are repeated on the palate with sweet, juicy fruits, refreshing acidity and silky slate minerality."- www.urbans-hof.de 

Spätlese is from an even later harvest. The long, slow autumns of Germany allow the wine makers to leave their grapes on the vine longer, if the harvest and weather permits. I thought for the late harvest Riesling I would showcase a wine from one of the oldest wineries in Germany still in operation. This is a Grand Cru Riesling to boot! The amazing thing about Riesling is the ability to retain its acidity even as it progresses in ripeness, making it a great food wine all around. 

Why this focused, refreshing wine is great for food pairing: This is a wine that will pair very well with foods that are a bit fattier and are accompanied with sweeter flavors. There are few wines out there that have the acidity to carry through heavier foods, yet the ripe sweetness to accompany dishes that are rich and slightly sweet (game bird and apple stuffing, anyone?). This time of year cherries are in season and are often featured with savory dishes, and when you really think about it so are roasted nuts, dried fruits, sweeter herbs (huge fan of sage), brown sugar in savory foods, and how about that maple glaze that goes over the ham? You get the picture. 

On the other hand, if there are some foods that are too spicy for your liking, this will make the heat much more bearable!  

I really hope I have inspired you to try some Rieslings and feature them at your table when you are entertaining and have a large spread!

Cheers! – Maggie

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price.