Friday, October 28, 2011

A Rosé for Rosé-Haters

Girlie rosés, move over. The new gal in town hails from Crios, the second label from Argentine winemaker Susana Balbo. The Crios line includes a lovely Torrontés, an easy-drinking Chardonnay and three approachable reds: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah-Bonarda blend. 

The trio of handprints on the label represent Balbo and her two offspring, or crios. 

Then there's the Crios 2010 Rosé of Malbec, perhaps the gutsiest wine in the lineup − and certainly the most fun. Balbo uses the saignée method to bleed off the first-pressed juice from old-vine Malbec grapes. The result is a darker, richer rosé with spiced black raspberry and wild strawberry flavors that stomp the palate to take note of its surprising complexity, like an exuberant child showing off new tricks on the trampoline.

Crios shows a burly edge that sets it apart from delicate Old World rosés. At 13.9% alcohol content, it's easily a fuller-bodied rosé any red wine lover can embrace. In-your-face flavors and aromas are sure to win over a few rosé-haters and seduce wine enthusiasts who haven't yet been dazzled by rosé's singular charms.

Screwcapped and priced around $10 at Dan's Wine Shop in Palm Desert, it's a no-brainer to have on hand any time of year, and a wine we look forward to snapping up every vintage.

If you're already thinking turkey day, look no further. Broad-shouldered and juicy with a spice-packed palate, Crios makes a terrific Thanksgiving wine. It's a crowd-pleaser that can sail through the entire meal, from earthy first courses through to turkey and the trimmings. Give it a good chill and let the party begin.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

White Wine Essentials

Last week's White Wine Essentials guided tasting was the first in our new wine education series, Wine Essentials at Cooking with Class. The sellout group of wine-curious attendees tasted their way through the three top-selling varietal wines in the country: Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
By tasting two wines styles or expressions of each grape, the group was able to pick out what made the two wines smell, taste and feel different by harnessing their senses in a more focused way. Tasting the two styles side-by-side helped each person better understand their own wine palate and discover which style they preferred − and why.

Each taster received a complete tasting sheet that described the wine's scents, tastes, style, food pairings, alcohol content and region. They also learned about each winery and were given ideas for other types of wines they might like if they enjoyed that particular style of wine. Surprise giveaways were awarded to those whose questions or comments heightened everyone's wine appreciation.

The fun continues at Red Wine Essentials at 6 PM on Thursday, November 17 and again with Sparkling Wine Essentials during the holiday week on Thursday, December 28. Sign up online or by calling Jane at 760.777.1161 as seats as going fast. All sessions are independent and open to all levels of wine enthusiasts. Whether you're new to wine or an experienced taster, you'll learn more about your palate in a way that will broaden and deepen your wine enjoyment for years to come. 

The six wines we tasted at White Wine Essentials are given below. All are available at Cooking with Class or can be ordered for you to pick up. Together, they beautifully demonstrate stylistic variations that make wine tasting a constant challenge and a thrill:

Pinot Grigio
Vigneti Pittaro, 2009 (Friuli, Italy) and Montinore Estate 2009 Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Sauvignon Blanc
Spy Valley 2010 (Marlborough, New Zealand) and Cannonball 2010 (Sonoma County, California)

Los Vascos 2010 (Colchagua Valley, Chile) and Samantha Starr 2008 (Monterey County, California)

For those of you who want the complete food- and wine-pairing experience, our next Food & Wine Tasting dinner at Cooking with Class in on Friday, October 28 and next month on November 11 at 6:30 PM. We'll feature two whites and two reds with four exciting dishes paired to perfection and created by Chef Andie and her talented crew, plus a special dessert.

See you soon!