Tag Archives: Wine Tastings

Wine Tasting Tweetup

Say that three times fast! Well, it’s almost been a week and I’ve finally collated all the information that Simon Tyrrell provided. I’ll leave out a lot of the bits about what the vineyards look like so that you can view them for yourselves!

I suppose I should start from the beginning. At the end of July a good friend of mine, @nmcgivney gave me the idea of doing a tweetup including wine. A tweetup is when twitter users get together to socialise and chat. Seems ironic, but honestly it’s great to actually meet the people you’re exchanging tweets with! Either way, I contacted Emma Tyrrell from @the_WineStore (specialising in Rhone Valley wines)  to see if she would be interested in hosting such an evening. In just a few weeks with the help of @ElyWineBars and @IBrosnan (Ian Brosnan is the Wine manager at Ely) we were upon a very special evening. This was the first evening of its kind and I think we were all kind of wondering what was going to happen!

The deal: Wine tasting with 5 wines and a few bits of bread. A wonderfully in-depth talk from Emma’s other half, Simon and a main course with 2 glasses of wine for just 30 euro.

The wine:
Ventoux ‘Persia 2010, Domain de Fondreche
A wine from the Southern Rhone region, vines in limestone and clay, this wine had medium body and was medium-high in alcohol. Flavours from this wine were honey, stone and salty. The wine smelled as it tasted and though salty seems like a strange smell, it did come through on the palate. Only 10% Viognier, the wine was crisp and delicious.

Viognier de Rosine 2010, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine M. et S. Ogier d’Ampuis
Viognier is one of my favourite varieties of wine. It always has so much to offer and is loved by so many. This winery begun in the West Rhone region. Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes means ‘Country Wine from the Rhone Hills.’ The wine has low acidity and medium body with flavours of apricot and fruit. Interestingly enough the wine-makers keep 1/3 of the wine in a tank and 2/3 in barrels. When brought back together, the wine’s characteristics shine through.   We were also able to try the 2007 vintage as well and found it to be too oxidized, lighter and the alcohol stuck out a little too much. White wine doesn’t age too well and we found that was the case here.

Syrah ‘L’Ame Soeur’ 2007, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine M. et S. Ogier d’Ampuis
‘L’Ame Soeur’ or ‘Kindred Spirit’ was probably my favorite. Aged 18 months, this wine from the Southwest side strictly slate and rock, was almost like a Cabernet Franc. The tastes on the palate were black pepper and black currant. There was smoke and less fruit on the nose. The skin of the grape holds the tannin and here the skins were macerated more to release more tannin. This Syrah was so drinkable I wish I had it all to myself!

Chateauneuf du Pape 2008, Clos des Papes
We all recognise this name, but do we all know the background? Simon told us that when the French pope came to be, he decided he wanted to move the Vatican to a new site in France. Now Chateauneuf is the 3rd largest produced wine in France, but you should really know the producer or you could end up with a bad wine. Chateauneuf uses 13 varietals of which 5 are white. Not all varietals need to be used in making of the wine, but there does have to be a minimum amount of Grenache used.  This wine had lower tannin, lower acidity and was higher in alcohol. The nose smelled of bright fruit and Indian spice (that came from Simon and he hit that smell right on the nose.. ba da chi!) The palate was raisin, dark fruit, black cherry and plum and incidentally enough… Indian spice. Aged in oak casks for 18-24 months, the wine was very nice and round. These wines can be expensive so know what you buying!

Wine with dinner:
Vacqueyras ‘Un Sang Blanc’ 2006, Domaine le Sang des Cailloux
Flavours: Peach, vanilla and honey. The wine was light and refreshing and went very well with my main course of chicken thigh with potatoes and green beans in a creamy olive sauce. Lots of flavour and acidity from the wine went together nicely.

Crozes-Hermitage ‘Equisse’ 2010, Domaine des Hauts Chassis
Flavours: Dark fruit, vanilla, pepper, soil, smoke. The wine was bright and full of dark fruit with low acidity and low alcohol. Very easy to drink 🙂

Too give you an idea of the locations…
South in Green from what we tasted: Vacqueyras, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Ventoux
North in orange/red: Crozes-Hermitage, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes


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Campo Viejo Trail Launch

A couple days ago I had the pleasure of going to the Campo Viejo Trail launch party.  Why did I get to go? Facebook contests… YES! Campo Viejo is a Rioja, contest in the bag. But really, I answered the question and won entrance to the party.

The night was really fun. I met some interesting characters, had a never ending supply of 2007 Campo Viejo Reserva and ate a few small bites of food.  This wine is a favorite, it can be as low as 8 euro when you find it on sale and it’s so easy to drink. Enough fruit to drink alone and enough tannin for food.  The small bites I had were skewered pieces of pork with a tomato topping, a Russian potato salad and a sauteed shrimp in a garlic sauce.  The pork went best with the wine and the spicy tomato sauce topping.

If you’re wondering what the Campo Viejo Trail is:

Every Wednesday and Sunday for 20 Euro all food and wine included, the trail takes people to four of Dublin’s best tapas restaurants. It’s similar to Raleigh’s food walking tour which I always wanted to try, but never had a good day to do it. Bonus: they had pamphlets at the launch including the recipes for the tapas meals used on the trail or at least items similar. Now I can try them out myself.  I have really gotten into tapas and hope to have a dinner party soon all tapas style. so if you have any good ideas – let me know!!


(Photo taken from Campo Viejo images)

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Sláinte! Prost! Salut! Cheers!

This one overcast afternoon I found myself mindlessly staring out the window, you know that time of day, wondering what my next adventure would be and if I’d have enough guts to do it. At the time I had a roommate bound for magnificence; traveling, loving her job and encouraging me to do more. Be more. So I took her advice and started a wine blog. You had me at Merlot had a good run, but like all things in life, it’s time to move on and get better. Since that day there have been a lot of day dreams all the while life happening, as it does. I had a birthday, I went to the beach, I went broke from going to wine tastings and I fell in love. You know, important benchmarks in anyone’s life. This is where the story begins.

The bee, the hive, the honey is You had me at Merlot reborn – and this time, no “meat merlot.” As you previously read, life happened and my next adventure became clear.  After long thoughts on the issue, I decided to move to Dublin, Ireland, a dream of mine since 2007. The bee, the hive, the honey will be my outlet for all things life related – it’ll be my double entendre for what I’m doing, where I am and what I’m drinking.

Hopefully you enjoy my writing all the same and together we’ll find what we’re all looking for, a good stylist. Have a happy, healthy New Year!

May all your joys be pure joys and all your pains champagne.

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How do you know if you haven’t tried it?

Didn’t you just love this saying as a child.  You look down at the weird veggie combination on your plate, unsure of 1. what brussel sprouts were and 2. if they really were from Belgium.  (I’m still not positive on #2) With a distorted look on your face and head slowly turning away, you say, “I don’t like them.”  Mom has got the magical come back, “how do you know you don’t like it, until you try it?” Alas… she’s got a point.

If you’re anything like my brother you waited until mom wasn’t looking and one by one stabbed your vegetables with your fork and flung them onto your younger sister’s plate.  Thank goodness I liked broccoli or I’d STILL be at the dinner table finishing my dinner before I got dessert.

Well you know what? Mom was right – as she always is.  How DO you know if you like something if you’ve never had it? Case in point is that you don’t, you can’t.  So when people tell me that they don’t like dry wines simply because they are in love with Riesling, well I have to bring it back old school… just try it! Even if you don’t like it and you say, I told you so, at least you know and more for me.

Wine tastings are the best way to learn more about wine.  Easy concept to grasp and I’m sure you all know.  I also know that crazy wine loving fanatics go to wine tastings and scoff at those trying to learn more. Lame. Don’t let these people discourage you from knowing more and drinking free wine!

A few wine tastings coming up that I would like to endorse.  I’m hoping you won’t miss out on the potential fun that could be had at these events.

Aug. 9 – Wine & Dine Trivia @ Solas
This event starts at 7pm and for $15 you get to taste 3 new wines with amazing food, all while testing your wine knowledge.  You’ll learn about the wine you taste and wine in general, what could be better for a newcomer to wine? Call for reservations 919.755.0755.

Aug. 10 – All About Oregon Wine Class @ The Wine Feed
Oregon’s fantastic growing region makes this state a new leader in wine production. Learn more about Oregon’s wines from Alex Gray (this man is amazing!) of the Country Vintner from 7-8:30pm.  For $15 you get to try 6 different wines as well as discuss all things pertinent to grape growth and wine production.  Reserve your seat today. http://thewinefeed.com/product.php?id_product=56

Aug. 18 – EQwine Benefit: Corolla Horse Fund
Save the Wild Horses!! Wild horses on the Outer Banks are experiencing a harder life as more tourists come to see them. A horse died just the other day from being fed by a human. Help support this cause from 7-9:30 pm while drinking Wild Horse wine, eating lovely hors d’oeuvres and talking with other wine lovers. Learn more about this cause by visiting http://www.corollawildhorses.com/ or call 919.755.0755 and choose option 1. The cost is $30 and attire is business casual.

Have a fun and wine-filled August! Stay cool, drink wine indoors!

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Information Overload! Calendar of Events

Phew! Talk about having a lot of stuff going on. And this isn’t even half of what is going on in the Cary/Raleigh/Durham area! Either way, gives us all a good place to start.

March  12 at 8pm – Uncorked – “Live Music with Jo Gore and the Alternative” (Music and wine tasting) Free. (More info http://www.uncorkednc.com/event/live-music-800-1000-p-m/)

March 14 at 6:30pm – Rockfish Seafood Grill – “Rockfish Grill beer Dinner w/ Fullsteam Brewery” (4 course dinner) $30 per person. {southpoint@rockfish.com to reserve}

March 17 at 3pm – Big Boss Brewing Company – “Who’s Your Paddy?” (Beer, music and Food) Free.

March 17 at 9pm – 606 Lounge – “Midnight Irish Cookout for St. Patty’s Day” (Food, Drinks, Fun) No cover as far as I can tell, don’t hold me to that, call ahead.

March 18 at 4pm & March 19 at 12pm – Total Wine in NC – “Tour of Bordeaux” (Wine Tasting) Free.

March 19 at 11am – Lucky 32 in Cary – “Cooking Class” (Chef Jay’s Masterpieces and appropriate drink pairings) $39 {Reservations 919.233.1632}

March 19 at 12pm – Wine Merchant in Cary – “Cali Wines with Jana from Millenium Beverage Distributors” (Wine Tasting) Free. {http://winemerchantraleigh.com/blog/FREE-Saturday-Tastings-3-19-11/}

March 19 at 2pm – Wine Merchant in Raleigh – “Fresh and Delightful Wines” (Wine Tasting) Free. http://winemerchantraleigh.com/blog/FREE-Saturday-Tastings-3-19-11/}

March 25 at 4pm & March 26 at 12pm – Total Wine in NC – “Selections from Spain to Portugal” (Wine Tasting) Free.

March 25 at 7pm – Martins Curry Rice – “Wine Dinner” (German wine and Indian cuisine) $20 per person { http://www.sipawinestore.com/ 919.380.7799 for reservations}

March 26 at 12pm – Wine Merchant in Cary – “Springtime Wines with Haw River Wine Woman” (Wine Tasting) Free. {http://winemerchantraleigh.com/blog/FREE-Saturday-Tastings-3-26-11/}

March 26 at 2pm – Wine Merchant in Raleigh – “Wines from Jen and The Country Vintners Distributors” (Wine Tasting) Free. http://winemerchantraleigh.com/blog/FREE-Saturday-Tastings-3-26-11/}

March 27 at 12pm – Fullsteam Brewery – “Whole Planet Rhythm & Eats & Beats” (Fundraiser with music, beer and food for The Whole Planet Foundation) $10 Donation requested.

March 31 at 7pm – Lucky 32 in Cary – “Fullsteam Beer Dinner” (Lucky’s food, Fullsteam’s brew) $40 {Reservations 919.233.1632)

April 1 at 5pm – Sip…a wine store – “Spring Beer Celebration with Bells Oberon” (New beer selection tasting) $5 includes pint glass {Reserve a spot 919.467.7880}

April 9 at 12pm & 6pm – Moore Square – “2011 World Beer Festival” (Yea… a beer festival) $40 {http://allaboutbeer.com/gather-for-beer/world-beer-festival/raleigh-nc/}

April 13-17 – Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival {http://www.blueridgewinefestival.com/}

April 16 at 11am – Koka Booth Amphitheatre – “Great Grapes!” (Wine, arts & food festival) $20 {to buy tickets http://www.drinkeatrelax.com/tickets/great-grapes-festival-cary-north-carolina-april-16th}

April 27 – May 1 – Beaufort Wine & Food Weekend { http://www.beaufortwineandfood.com/}

Free weekly wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays at Great Grapes. {http://www.greatgrapesonline.com/}


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You Had Me At Merlot

Well… that’s not entirely true.  I wish I could label myself as a true badass of wine.  “Um, yes madam, what you are tasting is a light oak flavor with a hint of permanent marker.  Is that a bit of grass I detect, oh how delightful.” I am an amateur and I will be the first to admit it.  Wine is like a woman from the 1800s – vastly undiscovered.    You could learn about 10 new varietals and not even see her ankle… scandalous.  There is just no way to try everything, but we do our damn best! 🙂

And here comes the history, semi short and all but sweet. When I was about 11 years old I saw some red wine in my parent’s fridge and figured I’d give it a try.  It looked like grape juice and I had heard about how, ‘like totally grown-up it made people’ and was beyond curious.  This can’t be much different than communion wine I thought and that stuff is awesome!! If you haven’t ever heard this phrase before I suppose it’s time you did, wine is an acquired taste and seeing as I hadn’t even hit puberty yet, I think it’s safe to say I certainly hadn’t acquired anything.

As you can guess, I began to enjoy it… even love it.  Starting with my mother’s Prosecco, which is still my favorite sparkling wine.  I progressed through the Rieslings, the Pinot Grigios, and the Chardonnays.  I must say it took me a while to jump to reds, but a couple bottles of forced 2 Buck Chuck and I was hooked. Up and up I went until I hit Malbecs, Sangiovese and the ever-beloved Zinfandels. Needless to say, I took a sip and my mind was blown and as I weaved in and out of consciousness, I was like the mouse from Ratatouille when he mixed cheese and fruit together for the first time. Life is just better with a glass of pure sexiness.

I started officially (ahem) wine tasting at 21 and I haven’t stopped since.  Does that make me an expert? Hell to the no. All I’m hoping to do is taste wine, describe it as best as I can and help make your life just a little bit more pleasurable.

With this blog I want you to experience wine for yourself.  The hardest part in our busy lives is finding new wines that we like.  Where do we go? How do you know if it’s good? How do you not spend your child’s tuition money on a single bottle? Wine is made for one purpose, pleasure… technically speaking pleasure and money…. well pleasure, money and because, really, what else are they going to do with all those grapes.  Do they have uncrustables in France? I cringe at the thought.

It’s time to enjoy the simple things in life.  If you can’t have the perfect job, the perfect lover, the perfect yard or the perfect life… you can have the perfect bottle of wine to make it all suck just a little bit less.  Good wine, good food and great conversation is all you will ever need. Let’s get started.

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