Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of 2013

So earlier this year, I recapped my amazing year of 2012 and at the end asked, "ok 2013, what do ya got?!"

So here's how 2013 went:

  • Continuing my experience at Boxwood, I learned about the bottling process. With their own state-of-the-art bottling line, I watched and assisted in bottling the popular 2012 Rosé! Working for a winery really taught me the behind the scenes of how the juice gets into the bottle and on the shelf.

  • We took our first trip to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend and had a great time drinking and dining all over the city, complete with Veuve!

  • At the end of the summer, I took another career jump into the sales side. I took a full-time job as a wine sales rep in the DC/Arlington region and am loving this side of the business.

Overall, 2013 has been a great year! However, not as eventful as 2012 but I planned that! Life has been too crazy the past couple of years so 2013 was just what I wanted. Who knows what 2014 will bring!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Carménere, the Forgotten Grape

Carménere has recently been rediscovered in Chilé and now you can find it on just about any retail shelf. But what is it and how did it gain it's comeback?

Carménere originated in the Medoc region of Bordeaux and is thought to be one of the original six red grapes. However, it's not rarely found in Bordeaux but rather in Chilé. When the vines were transferred to Chilé, they were planted with the Merlot grapes and was thought to be Merlot for decades. Since it was really another varietal mixed in with the Merlot, Chilean Merlot was unlike any other. It wasn't until 1994, when a researcher found that some of those grapes were actually Carménere. Since then it's be labeled as such and gaining popularity.

I opened a bottle of Casa Rivas Gran Reserva Carménere recently and truly enjoyed it. Very easy to drink on its own but easily paired with many foods. Big, bright fruit with a medium finish, this wine was a perfect sipper to enjoy in front of the tv. This wine comes from the Chilean region of Maipo, closest region to Santiago.

Curious? Pick up a bottle of Carménere and taste for yourself!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A New Favorite...Vellum

Working in distribution, I come across A LOT of new finds. Most recently, I met the winemaker of Vellum Wine Craft based in Napa, CA.

Jeff Mathy visited us in the DC area to showcase his 3 wines: Vellum White, Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon & Vellum Black. The Cabernet is the flagship wine and what started the entire brand. Jeff and his business partner, Karl, made their first vintage of Cabernet in 2007. And their inaugural vintage was quite a hit with a "result of the highest rated and most age worthy Napa Cabernet in 2007"!

But how did this company come about?

Karl is a war veteran and moved west when he returned, studying enology and viticulture from UC Davis. Jeff has a history as a mountaineer, completing the 7 Summits and in the process he met a Master of Wine who spiked his interest in the wine industry. A friendship was born and ultimately (and good for us!) wine production began. If you're wondering about the name, Vellum is the decorative canvas that is said to be what the Bible, Declaration of Independence and other significant documents were printed on. "Like true vellum canvas, Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine made for the ages." 

The most recent vintage, Vellum produced ~1400 cases total, now that's small production! They do have a wine club and have began distribution this year. With such small production at the moment, there is not a lot of these wines to distribute so get it while you can!

So now about the wines. They are all made in the Bordeaux-style, which is exactly what I like! They are also all unfiltered, unfined and organic.

2012 Vellum White - 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon - 8 barrels produced - Similar to a Bordeaux Blanc with notes of citrus, ripe gooseberry with a complex finish.

2009 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon - 80% Cabernet 10% Petit Verdot 10% Merlot - 50 barrels produced - Received the Silver Decanter World Wine Award - Deep ruby in color with notes of dark fruits and spices.

2010 Vellum Black - 85% Petit Verdot 15% Cabernet - 8 barrels produced - This big, bold wine has notes of dark fruit, cassis and a hint of spice. Tasting notes quote "the highest expression of Petit Verdot, age worthy 25+ years and the crown of an unforgettable vintage!"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Who's Behind Food Network's Wine Label, entwine?

If you're an avid Food Network lover like I am, you've recognize that they have their own wine under the label Entwine. I've seen it in cooking shows as well as their competition series. I've also seen it on the shelves at some retailers.

Each label showcases the Food Network logo and are single varietal; Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This isn't breaking news, entwine has been around for a few years and sadly, I've overlooked these bottles when making wine purchases. All my fault, but I never researched where this wine came from. I assumed it was sourced grapes from all over CA to make an approachable, easy to pair wine, slapped with a Food Network label.

Little did I know that the nation's oldest, continuously operated, family-owned winery, Wente Vineyards, works with Food Network on their entwine product.

Recently, I was able to have lunch with Christine Wente herself. We sampled numerous wines including  Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, Morning Fog Chardonnay, Riva Ranch Chardonnay and Charles Wetmore Cabernet. While learning about more about this iconic family and vineyard, entwine was introduced.

This family is known as the "First Family of Chardonnay". They have been producing CA Chardonnay for 100 years and have been producing wine for over 130 years! Wow!

Entwine should not be overlooked, as I have done in the past. It just goes to show that a little education about the winery/vineyard/label goes a long way. I now have another great, go-to, everyday wine to add to my collection. I look forward to tasting the entwine lineup and will be posting reviews in the future.

Thank you to the Wente family for inviting me a great luncheon where I was able to learn so much more about the wines, location, vineyard and more!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Night at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner

*I received a complimentary one night stay with meals, this was my experience!

Sometimes a "staycation" is the ideal date night here in the DC metro area with great hotels, restaurants and entertainment options. Bryan and I did just that over the weekend.

We enjoyed an overnight stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, complete with dinner, wine, cocktails and a buffet breakfast. Upon arrival, the valet and front desk were welcoming and helpful, making us feel very appreciated. The superb customer service continued throughout our stay.

The cheese and charcuterie in our room was also a nice touch! (They know how to please us Winos)

We made reservations for dinner at the Entyse Bar & Lounge where we enjoyed soups, entrees, dessert, and wine of course! I ordered the shrimp pad thai, something I was not expecting on the menu, and truly enjoyed it. He ordered the salmon filet. The food and service were spectacular. We were able to enjoy at our leisure and received prompt and friendly service from the wait staff.
But no meal is complete without wine! The extensive list showcased wines from all regions of the world and a few selections from Sommelier Vincent Feraud, including 1er Cru Burgundy! However, I began the evening with a crisp, refreshing Sancerre which paired perfectly with the small nibbles and my main dish of pad thai. Later, I enjoyed a glass of that 1er Cru Burgundy because who can pass that up?!
Entyse also has their own wine club, which is free to join (email Vincent to sign up)! Benefits include priority invites to wine dinners and events, priority to purchase new and limited release wines from Entyse retail wine shop and a complimentary glass of wine when you purchase a dinner entree! Needless to say, I signed right up and look forward to hearing about the upcoming wine dinners and events. 
This is the card to you have yours?
Speaking of events, check out their event calendar for all of the happenings coming up in the Fall/Winter.

Weekly events at Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge include:
Wine'D Down Wednesdays ~ wines by the glass with a raw bar
Sushi Thursdays ~ I will definitely be attending one of these!
Jazz Fridays ~ With Christopher Linman Jazz Ensemble

We sipped cocktails while listening the Christopher Linman Jazz Ensemble

The adventure continued in the Bistro for breakfast where you can order a la carte or the buffet. After taking a glance at the buffet, it was an easy decision for us! Again, the food and service were spectacular and was a fantastic way to end our staycation at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.
The Bisto's lovely decor
Meet me at Entyse Wine Bar, I'm looking forward to visiting Vincent again soon!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Weekend Trip to VA Wine Country

Ever thought of staying in West Virginia and exploring Virginia wine country?

Probably not your first thought.

Charles Town is known for the horse races and Hollywood Casino. A few miles from there is a quaint, cozy and historical bed and breakfast, Hillbrook Inn. And a short drive from there is VA wine country.

Built on George Washington's first land purchase, this b&b is also known for it's fine dining experiences featuring 3 and 5 course dinners and 2 course breakfasts. The staff was very welcoming and gave us the grand tour upon arrival. The amenities are high-end and I must say, the bed was most comfortable! Perfect after a day of winery hopping.

Virginia wineries are within a short drive; plan a trip to visit Breaux, Hillsborough, Doukenie, Veramar, Bluemont and many more!


Friday, September 27, 2013

J&G Steakhouse Launches a New Look

J&G Steakhouse, located in the W Hotel, has been a Top 100 Restaurant in DC for many years. Although it's a hotel restaurant, J&G has managed to attract tourists and locals alike. DCers are well-versed in steakhouses as well as hotel restaurants but J&G has gone through an extensive remodel over the summer.

They reopened this week and I was there to see the new look! First off and most importantly, they have launched a wine bar inside called Bar 515. The bar is inside, off the patio and beneath the main steakhouse. Quiet and cozy, this is an ideal location for a first date, catching up with old friends or making new ones. A sleek background behind the bar showcases bright white light and antler accents, very trendy. At the other end of the bar, there is a warm fireplace; the perfect spot to get cozy this Fall.

The patio has also had a renovation. Enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir next to the firepits scattered about. Again, ideal for this Fall season.

J&G also had a martini cart showcasing craft cocktails! How gorgeous is this patio?

The renovation inside the main steakhouse has made it feel more welcoming and modern with a pop of color.
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of
I cannot wait to come back and enjoy more wine on that patio and inside Bar 515!