Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Great Wines at an Affordable Price - Josh Cellars Wine Review

Joseph Carr
It all began in 2005 when sommelier Joseph Carr decided to start his own winery focusing on California wines crafted from small growers from Napa Valley, California’s North Coast and Carneros. Carr’s dream was to create sophisticated small-batch wines.

Josh Carr
Then in 2007, Carr began working with Tom Larson whose grandfather owned the land where the winery is now located. The two men worked together to create a second label: Josh Cellars.

Named in honor of Carr’s father, Josh, the juice was again sourced from several California winegrowing regions to craft well-balanced wines that are approachable and budget-friendly.

Chardonnay 2014 Vintage
The 2014 Chardonnay was a delight! The aroma of fresh melons and tropical fruits comprised the nose while the flavors of luscious peaches, melons and crisp apples tantalized the mouth; smooth vanilla notes rounded out the wine.

The Chard grapes came from Mendocino and Monterey counties, and winemaker Wayne Donaldson fermented the juice in oak before cold stabilizing it. The wine was then transferred to 30% new French oak and stirred on the lees. Excellent served with grilled pork. (Retails for under $15.)

Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Vintage
A perfect summer sipper! Notes of honey locust on the nose with hints of peaches and apricots. The tangy flavors of pineapple, melon and apples dance on the tongue with a twist of lime on the finish. Pairs wonderfully with chicken and olives.

This Sauv Blanc was crafted from grapes grown in the Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino regions. The grapes were pressed, and allowed to cold settle for 24 hours before cold stabilization to retain the aromas.
The 2014 vintage was awarded 92 points at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition in 2015. (Retails for under $15.)

2015 Wine Brand of the Year
Josh Cellars also produces a bold Cabernet and a brooding Merlot that I have tried and love, plus a Pinot Noir and Legacy Red I have yet to try. Josh Cellars is producing outstanding, well-balanced wines for a great price. Pour a glass and see what you  think. 

~ Joy

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Much Is A Standard Wine Pour?

Have you ever wondered why when you order a glass of wine in a restaurant or bar, the amount of the serving can vary?

There is no set legal-sized pour in the U.S., but a standard pour of wine is considered to be five to six ounces. (An establishment that offers five-ounce pours gets an extra glass out of each bottle.)

And, no, it doesn’t matter if the wine is a red or a white. The difference between the two pours is about two tablespoons. Many restaurants list the size of their pours on the wine menu. If it is not shown, ask.

Five-ounces is also the standard pour for a glass of Champagne. A glass of Sherry or Port is a smaller three to four-ounce pour because it is a fortified wine with a higher alcohol content. (Regular wine has an alcohol content of 11-14% while fortified wines are 15-20%.)

Dessert wines in the U.S. usually come in around 2-3 ounces since they are sold in smaller bottles. (The 375mL size dessert bottle vs. the 750mL standard bottle.)

Using the correct size and type of wine glass will make the serving size appear more in proportion.

In countries using the metric system, the standard serving size for a glass of wine is 100 ml (3.38 U.S. ounces.) But a pour of Champagne is 150mL, about the same serving size as ours. And Ports and Sherries are 60 mL while we pour an ounce or two more per serving.

Why the difference? U.S. wine pours vary somewhat because we are one of only three countries in the world that doesn’t use the metric system. (The other two are Burma and Liberia.) While that may present a problem with size and trade issues, it appears to be great for the wine drinker. Cheers!

~ Joy

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

At Trinity Oaks – Every Day Is Earth Day

This Friday, April 22, we will celebrate Earth Day. It began in 1970 as a day to show support for the environment; today, more than 193 countries take part in the annual event. But Trinity Oaks Wines hasn't waited for an annual reminder - they've been doing something to better our environment, every day, for eight years! 

Founded in 2001, Trinity Oaks, a representative of Trinchero Family Estates, located in the St. Helena, California, offers a variety of reds and whites: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

The company has always had an eye toward the environment. They bottle in recyclable glass; use recyclable corks, and capsules made from plant-based materials, and ship in kraft boxes that don’t require bleach to make the paper white. Sounds great! But then they had a radical idea – What if they planted a tree for every bottle of wine sold?!  

In July 2008, Trinity Oaks partnered with Trees For The Future to create the One Bottle One Tree program. Simply put, when you purchase a bottle of Trinity Oaks wine, Trees For A Future will plant a tree. And, there’s no limit to the number of trees they'll plant.

As of this month, Trinity Oak wine drinkers have helped plant over 15-million trees, so far, in 16 countries around the world. The One Bottle One Tree program is working to help restore the environment in countries that need reforestation like Brazil, Haiti, Kenya and the Philippines, among others.

Planting trees helps to regenerate over-harvested land while renewing the soil and natural resources. The trees also enable farmers to plant more diversified crops that generate a steady income for local families and communities.

And now, in celebration of Earth Month, Trinity Oaks Wine is offering consumers $1 off a glass of any Trinity Oaks wine at your local bar or restaurant. To access the digital coupon just go to ibotta. The offer is good through the end of the month.

So do your part for Earth Day – and enjoy a glass (or two) of Trinity Oaks wine in the process.That would be so Trees Chic!

~ Joy

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Domain Name Extensions Can Tell Your Story

If you have a website or blog, you probably took some time to carefully select a domain name for it. After all, this is your address on the web, so it should be something that lets the browser know what it’s about. 

Once that creative endeavor is completed, it’s easy to accept the usual .COM, .NET or .ORG extension that goes at the end. After all, these generic top-level domain (TLD) names give information about the business; .COM is for a commercial entity (Originally intended for a for-profit company.), .ORG is for an organization (It was originally intended to designate a non-profit.), .NET stands for network, .BIZ is for business, .EDU stands for education, .MIL is for the military, and .GOV designates government sites.

If you wanted to really stand out, you could have selected an extension for the country you're in since each country in the world has its own specific TLD. (The United States is .US, Australia has .AU, and Spain has .ES.)

But now you can get a bit more creative with your domain name by varying up the extension and using it to promote what you’re all about. Industry-specific website endings are becoming available!

This year, the wine industry jumped on-board with the website endings of .WINE and .VIN. According to Donuts Inc., (Donuts.Domains) the largest registry for new “not-com” domain names, these industry-specific domains “provide a more descriptive and creative means for domain owners to brand their businesses, products and services.

The advantages of using a .WINE or .VIN extension are many. First, wine consumers can type it in to locate anything related to wine: wine shops, wineries, vintners, wine growers, grapes, wine reviews, wine events, even wine classes. (Suggestions for usage include: WhereToBuy.WINE, Champagne.VIN, and USA.WINE.)

The new designations also give wineries, and others in the industry, a simple way to reinforce their branding right in their domain name. That’s something .NET, .BIZ and .COM just can’t do.

According to Donuts, Inc. co-founder and CEO Paul Stahura, “.WINE and .VIN will enable wine connoisseurs and the businesses that serve them to build identities and vibrant communities where commerce and ideas can flow freely.

Business-specific TLDs are currently available for 28 industries including agriculture, construction, consulting, food, automotive, and retail. Be on the look out for not-coms like these: .RESTAURANT, .HEALTHCARE, .TECHNOLOGY, .AUTO, and .LIFE.

This doesn’t signal the end of .COMS; nearly 60% of Donuts, Inc. registered names still have the corresponding .COM address. But renewals for them are starting to wane. Certain not-coms have been available since 2014, and of those, renewal rates for industry-specific TLDs are 40% high than renewals for legacy .COMS.

Only time will tell if this is a fad, but businesses around the world are switching from not-coms to industry-specific TLDs in order to make their businesses more memorable, and meaningful to their clients.

~ Joy

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wine Review: Masút Pinot Noir 2014

If there is a red “It” grape, Pinot Noir is, well, it! You will find wine drinkers who are passionate about the grape. Me? Not so much. I like a wine that’s a bit more “dark and brooding.” Pinot always seems too perfect, but thanks to Masút Vineyard and Winery, I have discovered that Pinot can also put forth that tantalizing dark and brooding nature that I love.

Masút Vineyard and Winery was established in 2009 by Ben and Jake Fetzer, sons of Robert Fetzer, one of the most experienced grape growers in Mendocino County, California. Their grandparents, Barney and Kathleen Fetzer moved to the region in the 1950s and established Fetzer Vineyards in the late 1960s. The family produced certified organic wine in the Redwood Valley for over 20 years with the boys growing up among the vines.

Ben, Robert and Jake Fetzer
After Brown and Foreman purchased the Fetzer brand in 1991, Robert Fetzer began a new wine chapter for the family. In 1994, he purchased 1,200 acres of coastal mountains and named it Masút Ranch. Pinot Noir was his grape of choice, thanks to the prevalent hillsides, sunny location, and the fast draining soil. Tragically, Robert Fetzer died in a river rafting accident in 2006, but his two sons are carrying on the family legacy.

Jake Fetzer
Ben Fetzer
After petitioning for a new viticultural area to be called Eagle Peak Mendocino County, the brothers converted a barn on the property into a winery, and began winemaking in earnest. The vineyard is closely tended with all pruning, canopy management and harvesting done by hand. Masút Vineyard and Winery was launched in 2009 with its prime focus on certified organic estate grown Pinot Noir.  The first release was in 2011.

The flagship wine is the Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir. According to the winemaker’s notes, the grapes were harvested early, hand-sorted and whole-berry destemmed into open top fermenters. After 14 to 18 days of fermentation, the wine was aged for 15 months, on the lees, in French oak.

Promises! Promises!
That’s what you’ll get with the Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014. This wine puts forth a cherry nose with hints of oak. The intense berry, cerise, coke flavors hit mid-mouth leaving traces of anise that gives you pause – pause to consider what could happen if given a bit more time to age. The term masút is an Indian word that means “dark, rich earth,” and you get a suggestion of that alluring earthy flavor with each sip.

Pair this Pinot with lamb, beef, game meats or grilled salmon. (I served it with a venison roast and veggies that played well with the earthy tones of the wine. Nice!) Priced at $45 a bottle, it is available at Masút Vineyard and Winery.

~ Joy

(If you have a wine you’d like me to sample and review, message me on Facebook or email for an address.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Cuisine of the Sun: A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate by Francois de Melogue

This is one cookbook, regardless of the tantalizing recipes, that would also be at home as a coffee table book. (It's that interesting to read!) Written and photographed by Chef Francois de Melogue, Cuisine of the Sun captivates the reader, and the reader’s taste buds, from the start.

Chef de Melogue
De Melogue pulls on his 20+ years as a chef of cross-culture cuisine to tempt us into trying our hand at his unique Mediterranean cooking style he calls “Cuisine Actuelle,” where he focuses on the natural flavors of the dish. Chef de Melogue has always had a love of food, wine and good times; friends nicknamed him Bacchus (after the Greek god of wine and merriment.)

De Melogue encourages the purchase of local ingredients from farmers markets and artisan farms for these recipes. Food that is purchased in-season and freshly picked simply tastes better, and the end result will astound.

But this is not a cookbook for those in a hurry. If you want to get dinner on in 30 minutes or less, steer clear. There are no premixed, premeasured dishes here. Chef de Melogue believes that cooking should take time and involve the senses, the mind, and the soul.

Pistou - Vegetable, Bean and Pasta Soup
On the same note, if you can’t improvise a bit, maybe you should be exploring the kitchen with Betty Crocker, not testing the culinary waters with Chef de Melogue, who has little use for oversimplified recipes, or dishes. According to de Melogue, “It’s ok to lose sight of the shores and venture fearless in search of new lands. I learned by watching my mother cook then trying, and failing, many times. It’s not how many times you fall in life that count, but how many times you stand back up.”

Chef de Melogue believes that food and emotions are strongly connected, so consider this book his passionate love letter to audacious foodies everywhere. As Harriet Van Horne said “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

And de Melogue is a man who is not afraid to live life to its fullest. He will joyously turn a traditional recipe on its head, and create a flavorful contemporary interpretation that astounds. The “Chef’s Notes” are invaluable. It’s the equivalent of having your own personal chef in the kitchen offering tips and tricks you didn’t know.

This is also a cookbook that shares a sense of place, yet timelessness, melding the traditional flavors of the Mediterranean with culinary convolutions that seduce the gastronomer. De Melogue’s writing style is composed of a bit of story telling with humorous, honest, and at times, mischievous details as he let’s the reader in on behind-the-scenes kitchen escapades at home, and in some of the most revered restaurants in the U.S. and France.

But Cuisine of the Sun is more than a cookbook. It is also a labor of love, and skill. Chef de Melogue imagined this Mediterranean cooking guide long before he launched his dream on KickStarter, a crowdfunding site, in August of 2015. On the first day of the project, 12% of the requested money was raised. Less than 10 days later, 60% of the financing was secured. By September 4, less than 30 days into the campaign, a gratified de Melogue had his financing for this spectacular book.

Roasted Beet Salad
Maman's Apple Tart
Peruse the Table of Contents and home cooks, as well as chefs, will be ready to indulge their foodie passions in the kitchen. Whether it’s the Roasted Beet Salad, a Simple Roast Chicken, Beef Cheek Daube, or Maman’s Apple Tart, cooks will find an honest approach, and delight in the recipes, which tempt and tantalize from the pages of this book.

Chef Francois de Melogue
De Melogue’s book is a joy; the writing is personal and witty, the recipes superb, and the photography stunning; he manages to capture little slices of life that appear to burst from the page.

Julia Child said it best, “No one is born a cook, one learns by doing.” And with Chef de Melogue’s guiding hand, you will learn from one of the best.

~ Joy

About the Author:
Francois de Melogue was born and raised in Chicago, but spent his summers growing up near Marseilles, France where he learned the culinary lifestyle of his family. De Melogue graduated at the top of his class from the New England Culinary Institute in 1985, and has worked in Provincial and pan-Mediterranean kitchens in France and the U.S. Check out his blog, EatTillYouBleed.

Book Details:
Cuisine of the Sun: A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate
by Francois de Melogue
Published by
Available for purchase at Amazon in hardback, and for Kindle