Archive for the ‘ Wine Reviews ’ Category

Wilshire Grand Events in New Jersey- Palmaz Vineyard Tasting

I am often invited to wine tastings or am even hunting down a good bottle for my own self indulgence, and then of course to pass on the education, and this time a local media friend, Hillary Morris did not fail us when she sent out an invitation to PIWC for a tasting and tour event- Palmaz Vineyards and The Wilshire Grand Hotel at New Jersey.

The hotel is located in West Orange (north) New Jersey, and I do not get up to those areas as often as I might like. There are still so many parts of New Jersey for me to explore as a transplant from Texas. Great restaurants to taste as well. Why not make it a wine and food experience I say!

My partner and I found the hotel nestled right off of the Garden State Turnpike, so points for not getting lost and easy access. After parking you see the hotel is on the right, so we headed left for the catering hall aka entertaining banquet section of the building. Upon entrance you have gorgeous visuals for any event need. I am wondering if it is not too late to repeat my own vows just to have a party here. The in-laws in New York would like the access.

As a caterer myself, I felt this was definitely a grand and beautiful place to hold an event- I could linger in the main foyer in my best rags with a dirty martini extra blue cheese stuffed olives, and only hope someone with Baby Grand Piano skills will show before I start banging out a Frank Sinatra song and drive everyone away…

We were directed to one of the banquet rooms in which Palmaz Vineyard and Hillary Morris was about to begin the ‘sip and twit’ style education. We were all being treated to a grand luncheon put on by the hotel ,  and I was ready, well hungry! The vintner’s family- mom, son, and daughter, along with Alan Greenberg their eastern regional manager (at our table) were on hand to explain when, why, and how the vineyard began its journey into wine making.

It was fascinating to learn from the son, Christian the wine makers took a former vineyard and converted it into an underground natural filtering (220 feet/3 sub-levels), or gravity flow system winery. Fifteen hours of hand separating the grapes from stems and wood, and much more labor intensive work was going on, and so much more care taken to ensure this once ‘darling of Napa’ vineyard produced a good product. I would have to make sure we had a tour when we returned to California! The visuals on the screen did have me fascinated, but what about the taste? Proof in the pudding, as I will borrow a cliche.

~ MENU ~


Baby Field Green Salad paired with Palmaz Vineyard Chardonnay 08
My first taste of the wine was not a good impression. The salad was gorgeous, flavors of all the toppings were great, but I prefer more oak in my Chardonnay, and less fruit, but I felt the stem ware did not do the wine justice. No room to open it up with air, but after a few more taste it grew on me. The wine is cold fermented in French oak for seven months, so it is a subtle flavor on the palate. I would serve it up against some other similar Chardonnay’s with a similar dish.

Hoisan Glazed French Cut Chicken Breast
Cedar Knoll Cabernet 06
Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet 06

Some complained the Hoisan was not a good pairing with the weight of the Cabernet, but I felt it did not overwhelm the dish and was well balanced- the key is too not have one out do the other, and in the case the Hoisan was thick and as the chicken was dipped and tasted with the wine, well it worked!

My favorite- The decanted Palmaz Vineyard Cabernet 06, was outstanding!

Goblet with Duet of Sorbet and Assorted Berries

No wine was served, and I passed on the dessert; it was beautiful, but not one of my favorites. My philosophy is if I am watching calories, not to waste them on any dessert served. I have a sweet tooth, so I simply had another helping of the Cabernet!

The price range of the wines are $50 to 100 a bottle, but the vineyard is low yield and puts a lot of time and care into keeping with old style wine making and aging art on the property, as well as the extensive water conservation practices in place. I plan on purchasing one of the 06 Cabernet’s for my own cellar!

PIWC is hoping to colaberate with Palmaz via Alan Greenberg one day after the first of the year for our own tasting, so we will bring you more news of how well the wines pair with some of our own choice foods!

Cheers to all the wonderfully nice people  Hillary Morris Public Relations invited to this event! (Thanks to Palmaz, The Wilshire Grand and the people at The HIP Event PR company too!)

Chef Elizabeth Stelling

What else am I up too?

Eating Weeds
Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

Halloween party wines

Partying adults are in luck this Halloween because the holiday comes out on Sunday this year. And what better way to celebrate the ghoulishness than with some Halloween wines. A word of caution though, Halloween wine parties have been known to leave many red wine stains on the carpet, so keep some stain remover on hand.

Some Halloween wines for an evening of adult fun:

  • Vampire Wines: a perennial favorite at Halloween parties is the brain child of Michael Macht who typically markets their Vampire wine line to the under 30 crowd. Vampire wines come in Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and White Zinfandel.  Wines can be found for under $30
  • Bonny Doon Vineyards produces Cardinal Zin. The wine is claimed to be produced by beastly old vines. Truly a Zinfandel that a blood thirsty vampire could easily enjoy; rich and juicy.
  • Owen Roe Winery in Oregon produces Sinister Hand. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, aged in French oak barrels. Flavors of fruit, pepper and great body. Another dark wine a vampire could learn to love.
  • Kentucky winery, Elkcreek Vineyards has a great line-up of Ghostly wines. For Halloween select from Ghostly White Chardonnay, Bone Dry Red Cabernet or Ghostly White Sweet Mellow White.  Wines can be found for under $20.00
  • Hocus Pocus Syrah a varietal of Syrah/Shiraz produced in Santa Barbara County California’
  • And of course there’s also Pinot Evil Pinot Noir from France.

Find wine locally

Cheers! -Adrienne

Cool Vines adds a new location

News Snippet: Mark Centis, founder of Cool Vines has opened up another Cool Vines at another location in Princeton. The philosophy of the new store on Spring Street remains the same; present their portfolio of wines in a manner that is approachable to the consumer.

Cool Vines arranges their wines according to flavor profiles and skips the “shelf talkers” and wine ratings from industry experts. To the average wine consumer this approach is less intimidating and more engaging. Why buy a 90 point rated wine, if you don’t like the flavor? Seems senseless to some.

The sales staff is very knowledgeable and will engage shoppers with little interesting bits of information regarding the wine’s profile and food pairings. Every Saturday there is an in-house wine tasting from 2-5 pm where wines are showcased and shoppers are treated to education and a little taste of the wines before buying. Effectively it’s “try before you buy”. Cool Vines tries to stock their stores with less well known brands with a focus on smaller family owned wineries, giving the consumer some industry treats.

This past Saturday, Cool Vines showcased three wines from South Africa; Chenin Blanc, a Rhone-Blend and Pinotage (indigenous grape variety of South Africa). South Africa is the up and coming New World star and is noted for making clean, crisp Chenin Blanc loaded with tropical fruits. The Man Vintners 2010 Chenin Blanc was just that! Clean with crisp acidity and generous notes of melon on the nose.

Cheers! -Adrienne

Cool Vines 21 Spring Street, Princeton, NJ

Cork’d highlights the wines of the Barossa with Langmeil Wines

Australian old vines wine fans should be pleased with tonight’s tasting event. Langmeil Wines will be highlighted at tonight’s Cork’d event where Langmeil Wines from Australia’s famed Barossa Valley will be showcased. Participants will be treated to some gnarly old vines wines where the fruit is rich and concentrated on the palate and nose.

Langmeil Wines family member, James Lindner will be on hand to walk participants through the tasting and answer questions.

Here’s a list of the wines that will be on hand-the line-up:

Event: Roger Smith Hotel, NYC 10/6

7pm tonight

Shiraz or Syrah? More old vines A $35 give-away


Pays Basque Wines of Xareta

Hotel Restaurant Lastiry, Sare/Fr

Most recently a trip was taken by my family to Espaina and the southern region of France- Xareta, which means “Wooded Valley”. We visited one of the villages, Sare (Sara) in the Basque region.

This charming town is part of the winding roadways off the major Autovia, or highway once you cross the French border. There we had two wines of the area with our meal, before setting off to San Sebastian, the other side of the Basque border.

A white and red wine, both AOC Irouleguy- Andere D’Ansa (white, 09) and Gorri D’Ansa (red, 07). Soft and light, but well matched for the regional dishes of seafood (squid and scallops, of which are mostly small) and le boeuf (veal).

A plus in this region and Spain were the offerings of small bottles, and no competitive pricing. Spain has no taxing on alcohol, because the believe that ‘Wine Is Food’, so I suspect France may be the same. Finding a bottle for as little as 1 Euro is not uncommon. Maybe not as good, but easy on the Euros with meals. I would suggest if you are ever near this region, which just above and to the left is Bordeaux- do not pass this experience up.

Our hotel and restaurant are connected- service, food and wine were excellent. If you do not speak French (a bit different in Basque), the hotel receptionist if on duty speaks English, and helped us with the menu since the wait staff had no patience with my son’s Spanish or our unused French from college and about. Spanish is also spoken, but a bit choppy with the French mixed in. I would suggest a Berlitz course, or lessons before you go.

Food- Basque, but French in many ways. Scallop pie, Le Boeuf Kidney Pie, and a beautiful Squid Casserole.

Also, one last suggestion- For breakfast, skip the lobby breads, and head down to the left, around the corner, and down the alley like street to the local bakery- Pan/Pain for some chocolate crescents. The memory of them lingers…some red wine would go well!

The food, wine and scenery is beautiful!


Chef Elizabeth Stelling Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

HISTORY: Xareta is an association law 1901 of French right dating from September 2004, gathering 4 villages on the two side of the border: Ainhoa, Sare, Urdazubi-Urdax and Zugarramurdi.

The country of Xareta, zone of a few square kilometres, forms a common basin of life on the two side of the border, around the villages Urdazubi-Urdax, Zugarramurdi, Ainhoa and Sare. The territory is located near mountains and sea. Moreover, Xareta has a strong cultural identity, thanks to the bonds of its inhabitants, who exceed the borders.

Sare/Sara, Fr Village View

Spotlight: Albarino from Rias Baxias

Chances are that you have never heard of Albariño. It’s just one of those obscure grapes maybe on the list of wine enthusiasts. The grape is from the up and coming Rias Baixas area of Spain.

Cork’d hosted another wine tasting event at the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC to increase brand awareness to wine consumers.
The Albariño grape was the star of the show, where 5 wines were showcased. Participants were treated to great Albariño  wines representing the Rias Baxias area of Spain as well as factoids relating to the grape varietal.

Albariño is Spain’s most exciting white grape varietal. Rias Baixas is the birthplace of the grape.

Albariño is a white grape varietal and is noted for it’s great acidity and food friendlieness, especially when paired with such seafood treats as ceviche, mussels and empanadas.

The Rias Baixas region of Spain is a white growing grape DO of Spain. 12 grape varietals are grown in the area, but Albariño makes up 90% of the grape growing region. The typical Albariño aroma profile consists of citrus, melon, peach, apricot and other exotic fruits.

Wines showcased:

ADEGA CONDES DE ALBAREI: Pale yellow in the glass. On the nose, loads of tropical fruits, citrus with a medium, juicy finish. Loads of acidity. Bright and refreshing. Pairs well with fresh seafood. 12.5% ABV.

Martín Códax 2009 Rías Baixas Albariño: Pale yellow in the glass. On the nose, apple, pear and peach. Short finish yet clearly refreshing. A great wine to be paried well with seafood and light salads.12.8% ABV.

Palicio de Fefiñanes 2008: Pale yellow.On the nose,lemon and lime. Medium finish with some minerality.

Serra da Estrela; Light yellow. Very aromatic with apricot, peach and lemon-lime. A long vibrant finish showing great acdity.

Pazo San Mauro 2005: pale yellow with a vibrant nose of citrus and stone fruit. On the palate, long lasting acidity with spicy citrus notes.

Cheers! -Adrienne

Arizona Wines- MeCaSah

Southwest Arizona Scenery

Not only is southern Arizona beautiful in paintings of the southwest style, but it is a great place to visit. Being from Texas and not having such good wines produced, I was skeptical about trying Arizona wines, but it was a good experience.

Visiting Tucson, Elgin, Sonoita areas we found a few wineries who were producing some decent grapes, but some were just bringing them in from California. What was the point? Maybe their grape varietals needed more maturing, but one winery was producing good cabernet, merlot and syrah grapes on their sprawling vineyard. A beautiful day and drive, we ended up purchasing a great bottle of wine.

After sharing it with my partner in wine sister, Adrienne, we decided it was worth the extra weight in the luggage after all. Sonoita Vineyard’s MeCaSah (My house wine), 06 Red Table Wine was a good match to the Italian meal we enjoyed together. Of course hubby broke out a Nickle and Nickle, and Adrienne brought a bottle of Sancere and an Isocolis cabernet blend, this bottle almost had not chance of survival. Well I was in love with its mellow and medium body. They were all good, but with a glass left in the MeCaSah bottle, I snuck it back into the carrier, and enjoyed it the next night. Savored every last drop.

When in Rome, or should I say Arizona, visit Sonoita Vineyards and pick up a bottle- tell them the chef from Texas sent ya’ll!


Chef Elizabeth Stelling  Food ~ Wine ~ Fun! </a> Read her post on ‘dogeuro’ stands along the Arizona highways!