October 31, 2008

Give Cheap Wine a Little Swank

qooqed-litron-wine-carrier-front.jpg With the holiday season fast approaching, 'tis the season of merry making and convivial gathering. Here are two stunning leather carriers from QOOQ to make even your cheapest wine picks look like something special.

The Litron pictured above earns the official swanky title because it comes in over the $20 range. But not by much... for about $32 you have a lovely gift that your hosts can actually use for years to come. They won't even notice the 2-buck Chuck inside.

ursulla-04.jpgAnd the Ursula bag you'll want for your own trips to the market, but it is so cheap you'll be buying one for all of your friends. It is constructed of the same fine leather as the Litron, but cut in concentric circles so that it collapses into a flat disc for storage. $12 -$15

via QOOQ Edition

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

October 28, 2008

Blood of the Vines - Halloween Wine Guide

There are a number of novelty wines out there if you're in the market this All Hallows Eve. If you want one stop shopping and live near a Cost Plus World Market, you can find about 9 or ten options there, including their own Trick (red blend) or Treat (white blend) from Chateau Diana. Cute idea, but I think I'll focus on the darker options.

vampirepinot.pngVampire Pinot Noir - Vampire Vineyards - Vin de Pays, FR
Powerful forest fruit and wild strawberry aromas persist on the nose, balanced by hints of fine French oak. The vibrant ruby red colors hint at a young wine, but the taste reveals a remarkable maturity. Elegant soft fruit flavors are already finely integrated into the structure of the wine, as is the oak, adding a subtle but powerful complexity to the flavor. This is a light smooth wine, easy to drink at any time of the year and exhibiting typical character of a young Pinot Noir. (Vampire Vineyards)

Vampire Merlot - Vampire Vineyards - Paso Robles, California
Picked at peak ripeness, the Merlot is fermented on the skins for two weeks, with three-times-daily pump-overs, the traditional method of extraction which brings rich color and supple tannins to the new wine. Aged with a combination of both French and American oak, our Merlot develops graceful fruit flavors in the cellar, complemented by subtle shadings of vanilla and toast from the oak. At the completion of the aging process, this Merlot was carefully blended with 8% Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure, as well as 8% Zinfandel, which adds a spicy note on the palate. (Vampire Vineyards)

Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon - Vampire Vineyards - Paso Robles, California
Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from several small-berry clones of this traditional Bordeaux varietal, grown in the Paso Robles region of California's Central Coast. Classic, small-lot fermentations, followed by aging with both European and American oak, gives full expression to the rich varietal flavors in this wine. Judiciously blended with small amounts of Merlot for softness, and Syrah for added structure, the Cabernet displays ripe flavor character and a lovely aroma that will continue to develop with additional time in bottle. (Vampire Vineyards)

(If you want something a little more authentic, try to find the Cab and Merlot from the Racas Vineyard in Transylvania)

SB 06 CabSauv Front1.jpgSpellbound Cabernet Sauvignon - California
Spellbound Cabernet exemplifies lush textures and bold dark fruit flavors with a slight hint of oak and spice. Cedar and tobacco aromas complement integrated lively tannins and fill out your palate allowing the wine to be consumed on its own or with your favorite food. (Spellbound Wines)

Spellbound Old Vines Zinfandel - Lodi
Our deep appreciation of the Zinfandel grapes rich history in California has led us to add this exciting varietal to the Spellbound family of wines. Focusing on old vines with lower yields that deliver intense flavors and bright acidity, we have produced a wine that is food friendly and lush on the palate. Located in the Lodi appellation, the 52 year old zinfandel vines offer subtle spice, rich, dark berry flavors, and balanced acidity. Aged in a combination of small French and American oak barrels we believe you will find this to be one of Spellbounds most delicious wines. (Spellbound Wines)

P06103.jpgEvil Cabernet Sauvignon - South Australia
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Langhorne Creek, Riverland, Barossa Valley. 25% aged in French oak for 12 months. Dark rich red, with bright crimson hues. Fresh, yet rich classic varietal nose, consisting of black olive, fresh blackberries and raspberries. The soft palate displays complexity of fruit and oak, with blackcurrant and spicy clove characters, balanced with a fine tannin finish. (

Pure Evil Chardonnay - South Australia
Pure Evil Chardonnay has white peach stone fruit characters. Add a luscious and delicious textural mouthfeel and a touch of French oak influence. The creaminess is balanced by an elegant freshness. (

You may also find these and other options at your local wineshop/beverage superstore. All are in the $8 - $15 range, but if you're having a party or just stocking up, be sure to ask about 6- and 12-bottle discounts.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

October 26, 2008

My Kind of Chemistry - Washington State Periodic Table of Wines

substancewines1.jpgIn a clever twist on the periodic table of elements, Wines of Substance from Walla Walla, Washington have caught my eye. They offer an interesting menu of varietals--and they teach you a little something about each on their site. It doesn't hurt that the concept, the website and the packaging are fresh and fun.

There is something infinitely elemental about wine... winemaking is chemistry after all... and I just love a periodic table I can actually remember.

Prices are in the $14 - $18 range. Stay tuned for more info about how they taste and where to buy.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

October 26, 2008

Newman's Own - A Legacy Worth Celebrating

NO_chard_BS_Hi.jpgI have been trying to decide how best to remember the gentleman and legend, Mr. Paul Newman. As it happens, I've had a few bottles of Newman's Own wine kicking around, just begging to be reviewed. So to honor the man, the philanthropist and the actor, I decided to throw a Newman's Own party. A little corny, I know, but what can I say?

I invited about twelve friends who were either Newman fans or just along for the free booze and grub. In lieu of background music, we fired up the DVD player and played a continuous loop of my four favorite Paul Newman films--The Sting, The Long Hot Summer, The Hustler and A New Kind of Love.

I tried to keep it simple and I wanted to use as many Newman's Own products as I could:

Chicken and shrimp skewers marinated in the Lemon Pepper Marinade
Beef skewers marinated in Steak Sauce
Potatoes, onions, peppers tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette and roasted
Tossed salad with classic Italian dressing

Chips and Salsa for snacking
Bowls of Spelt and Honey Wheat pretzels
Lots of NO popcorn placed strategically near the TV

Newman's Own Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
House cocktail - The Fast Eddie (vodka and NO Lemonade with perfect rounds of thinly sliced red chile peppers floating in it... a real kick in the pants!)

Assorted NO cookies and organic k-cup coffee for dessert

NO_cabsauv_BS_Hi.jpgTHE TASTING
Before the eating and official boozing began, I decided to hold a quick, mini wine tasting to get everyone's thoughts on the wines. I'm always a little skeptical of celebrity wines, but I did my due diligence and found that Newman's Own wines are produced by Three Thieves.

Newman's Own Chardonnay - Very lush and fragrant with scents of ripe tropical fruits... mainly pineapple. Lush and full on the palate as well. More tropical fruit woven with bright pear, golden apple and a thread of creamy vanilla oak lending flavor to its viscosity, all tempered by enough acidity to provide a crisp finish. Chardonnay haters thought it was too fruity and too creamy, but otherwise it was well received and a true indication of its worth--there was not a drop left at the end of the evening.

Newman's Own Cabernet Sauvingon - Bold and berry filled, this cab suprised all of us with its layered intensity. Rich and warm with scents of macerated berry, spice and sweet tobacco. Dried berries, plums and cassis round out the flavor profile and add a certain chewiness to the texture. This wine begs for a fire in the fireplace and bowl of stew in hand. Like Mr. Newman, this cab was adored by all.

Both the Cab and the Chard are quintessentially California wines. All sunshine and smiles. Infinitely like-able. You can find them at many large grocery chains as well as Cost Plus World Market in the $10 - $13 range.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

October 24, 2008

Le Creuset Screwpull Professional Lever Corkscrew


We've had one of these Screwpull openers for about 2 years now, and have to say it's amazing. This 5 Piece Deluxe Corkscrew Set
includes the Lever Model, Foil Cutter, Wine Collar, Stopper, and Extra Screw. You won't have any trouble opening bottle after bottle with this corkscrew, and it's a simple as lifting the handle.

At Le Creuset Screwpull Professional Lever Corkscrew S1700-31

Blogpire Productions Permalink social bookmarking

October 10, 2008

Skybar™ Wine System

skybar.jpgChristmas is just around the corner and if you're wondering what to give a wine lover who has everything--and if you have $1000 to play with--you might consider the Skybar Wine System.

Chill, pour and preserve wine all from a single system. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or frequently entertain, Skybar is the new and elegant way to serve and store wine. Individually controlled chambers let you keep up to three different wines ready to serve, each at its ideal varietal-specific temperature. Nine wine presets allow you to select the correct temperature, taking the guesswork out of chilling. When you're ready for a glass, Skybar pours the wine for you. With a press of the button, wine is dispensed into your glass. Guests may choose the wine they want and when they want it.

Patented vacuum technology preserves open bottles at peak flavor for up to ten days. Keeps wine fresh and protected from oxidization.

Available only online, but Sur la Table will cover free ground shipping. Be sure to check out the Skybar Video after the jump.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

October 2, 2008
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