Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

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Touring and Tasting with Matchbook Wine Company

in the vineyar
As a wine writer, I get invited to some of the most interesting events.

This time, it was a media/blogger tour and taste at Matchbook Wine Company in Dunnigan Hills. I was already a major fan of the Matchbook Wine label because of its quality vs. price ratio, so I was delighted to accept the invitation. Plus, I am an ex-employee of Toasted Head (special events sous chef and tasting room associate), so any excuse to head back to those Dunnigan Hills and I am in! :)

I actually managed to be somewhat outgoing (shocker) and met a few of the other writers, and after you read my blathering and reflections on my experience at the oasis just a few miles from the I-5 Zamora exit, you might want to read from their point of view here: Erin at Adventures in Nor Cal and Susan at Finding Our Way Now.

But first, a recap of my experience. It was a Friday night, and quite frankly one of the best happy hours (or two) I have ever spent. Just think of it: The moment Andy and I arrived at the new, beautiful tasting room, we were welcomed with a glass of 2013 Arsonist Chardonnay and introduced to some of the other writers (Lynn of Sacatomato was also there), tasting room associates, and the owners of Matchbook, John and Lane Giguiere.

I have followed the Giguieres for a while now, and have enjoyed their wines on several occasions, so it was nice to officially meet them and spend a bit of time with them instead of exchanging a few sentences here and there when I have met them at fundraisers/various wine tastings.

It was also great to finally see the tasting room (which has been open since October of last year). It’s an oblong shaped space with the tasting bar at one end and a large dining/board meeting table at the other. There is an impressively large chandelier that hangs above an island of items for sale. Out the back doors leads to a patio with a drop-dead stunning view of the vineyard. Nice digs.

TASTING SPACE

One of the most memorable and fun parts of the evening was speeding up and down the hilly vineyards in a golf cart with the winery’s owner John Giguiere at the helm. It was and his wife Lane who lead the tour, which included a tasting in the vineyard (the 2014 Matchbook Rosé of Tempranillo) and a look at some of the farming techniques being used on the grapevines, followed by a barrel tasting of several wines in the Matchbook/Arsonist portfolio.

the tour

Inside the barrel room, we tried 2 different wines that are used to make Matchbook’s “The Arsonist” Chardonnay. The first wine was big and buttery and would make even Rombauer and Falcor Chardonnay lovers fall to their knees. The second was a more fruit forward Chardonnay aged in neutral barrels. Together they make a stunning food-friendly wine that would best compliment a cheese plate, a chicken dish, or anything with an Alfredo sauce.

Wine barrel ine

After the barrel tasting, we returned to the tasting room (for more wine tasting, of course!) and enjoyed appetizers provided by Kitchen428 Restaurant and Mojo’s Lounge. We tasted the 2012 Arsonist Red Blend and the Matchbook 2011 Tinto Rey (a blend of Syrah and Tempranillo).
The two aforementioned wine along with most wines in the Matchbook Wine portfolio are so very conducive to enjoying with food—I am pretty sure that’s why I like them so much.

panoramic at matchbook

On a side note, you might remember my story on the Matchbook wine dinner held at Piatti late last year. You can find that here. If not, you can find Matchbook on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Thanks so much to Matchbook Wine Company for the invitation to explore their wines and their beautiful property. Both Andy and I feel truly blessed to have met with the group. Heaven on Earth, indeed.

There are five wines in the Matchbook portfolio including their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Tinto Rey, Syrah, and Rosé of Tempranillo. You can find most of them in your local supermarket, but I’m going to encourage you to visit the winery and tasting room and figure out which one is your favorite there. Spend an afternoon on the patio with the beautiful view of the vineyards, and please tell John and Lane I said “Hello!!”.

vineyard one

 


Urban Wine Xperience Takes Over Oakland Waterfront on Saturday, August 1, 2015

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In honor of Wine Wednesday, I am excited tell you about another upcoming food and wine event—this time in Oakland!

East Bay Vintners Alliance presents the 10th Annual Urban Wine Xperience on Saturday, August 1, 2015, from 1:00-4:00pm.

The event will take place at Market Hall in Jack London Square. More than 20 urban wineries from the EBVA will pour a wide array of white, rose, red and dessert wines for you to taste and enjoy.

In addition, local eateries and food purveyors will team up with the various wineries, creating delicious bites that pair beautifully with the EBVA’s wine portfolio. No need to travel to wine country when you can experience the ultimate wine tasting in your own urban backyard!

Participating wineries include: Aubin Cellars, Carica Wines, Chouinard Vineyard and Winery, Dashe Cellars, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Mead Kitchen, R&B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Paradox Wines, Urban Legend and Urbano Cellars with more wineries set to join.

Last year’s event was sold out and tickets are expected to go fast for the 10th anniversary event. Tickets are priced at $45 before June 1, and will be $70 at the door. Wine Club members’ tickets are $35 with promo code. Designated drivers receive discounted tickets at $15. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

New this year for the first time, UWX ticket holders will receive a $5 coupon at the door, applicable to any wine purchase at the event. A portion of the proceeds from wine sales will be donated to the Alameda County Food Bank.

You can find the East Bay Vintners Alliance on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
Make it a social experience by using the hashtag #UWX15! See you there :)


Kathryn Hall Cabernet Release Party Set for September 12th, 2015

Here’s a little press release from my friends at HALL! We can’t wait to attend the Kathryn Hall Cabernet release party in September! You can read about last year’s party here.

kathryn hall pic for party

HALL’s Annual Harvest Party Celebrates Release of 97 pt 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet

HALL St. Helena has announced the date for its annual Kathryn Hall Release Party releasing the 2012 vintage of its flagship Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The event will take place on Saturday, September 12 and will include a unique Vertical Tasting prior to the event hosted by award winning winemaker, Steve Leveque.“2012 is one of the most exciting vintages this Valley has seen in a decade,” says vintner, Kathryn Walt Hall. “We are thrilled with how Steve and his winemaking team have consistently crafted this wine each year, maximizing each vintage to produce the best possible result. This is truly the best fruit Napa has to offer.”Bringing together winemakers, wine-lovers, fans and foodies alike, guests will be invited to enjoy a sun-filled afternoon outdoors to sip on the newly released 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was recently rated 97+ pts by Robert Parker.

In addition to the main event, a rare Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the historic Bergfeld building. The experience will include a tasting flight of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (vintages 2007 – 2012).

Country music entertainment will be provided and guests will be served farm-to-table bites, western style. Additionally, Kathryn Walt Hall will be available during the event to sign bottles. The Kathryn Hall Release Party takes place on The Great Lawn in St. Helena located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains facing HALL’s Bergfeld Estate vineyard.

Think daytime. Think Texas BBQ. Think Kathryn Hall, Y’ALL. It’s going to be the ultimate harvest showdown with 800 friends set on the Great Lawn at HALL.

Ultimate Harvest Party Shindig: It’s Kathryn Hall Y’ALL
2012 Kathryn Hall Release Party

WHEN:
Saturday, September 12, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m (Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque)
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PST (Main Event)

WHERE:
HALL St. Helena
401 St. Helena Hwy. South
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-2626

Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/1LiII7v.
Prices for the Main Event are $75 for Early Bunny (purchased before Aug. 17) and $90 thereafter including at the door the day of the party. Ticket price for the Vertical Tasting is $200 and includes admission to the Main Event. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com or follow their social channels on Twitter @hallwines and on Facebook here.


Wine Wednesday: A Simple Duo of Rosés

Recently, two of Italy’s leading wineries released their first rosé wines—Mezzacorona from Trento, and Sicily’s Stemmari—each reflecting native varietals and terroir, and Andy and I were fortunate enough to sample them.

mezzacorona

stemmari
Andy made this paleo dinner to pair with them:

Ground pork burgers with an aioli dressing in a red cabbage shell. The meat mixture was a pound of ground pork and 4 ounces ground chorizo.

burgers

On the side we had a medley of roasted vegetables roasted in coconut oil.

roasted vegetables
We also had a salad with the meal (as we almost always do), studded with mushrooms, blueberries and toasted pine nuts.

salad
Though both wines were solid choices, especially with the upcoming hot weather this weekend, I preferred the Mezzacorona Rosé. :)

About the wines:
MEZZACORONA ROSÉ 2014:
100% Lagrein; 12% ABV; $8.99 SRP
Mezzacorona’s Rosé is made from 100% Lagrein grapes, a local variety grown along the Adige Valley north of Trento, where Mezzacorona calls home.

STEMMARI ROSÉ 2014: 100% Nero d’Avola; 12% ABV; $9.99 SRP
The Stemmari Rosé is produced from 100% Nero d’Avola, Sicily’s most famous grape variety, which is cultivated on sandy soils in the Ragusa province.

For more information about Mezzacorona go to www.mezzacorona.it or visit Mezzacorona on Facebook here and follow the brand on Twitter at @MezzacoronaWine. To learn more about Stemmari, go to www.stemmari.it; visit Stemmari on Facebook here and follow the brand on Twitter at @StemmariWine.


Valentine’s Day Our Way

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We had a wonderful Valentine’s Day this past weekend. Andy and I decided to stay in and cook for each other instead of battling the landmine of multi-course (no substitution) wheat, sugar and dairy heavy pre-fixe menus arranged by local restaurants.

And deciding to avoid the crowd and the high cost of dining out (both to the wallet and to our waistlines) it turned out to be a great decision, because I had one of the most fun Valentine’s in years. :)

We decided we would each make one dish (paired with a wine) for the other person, and then eat them together family style.

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I made this Chicken Korma for Andy, with a 4-ingredient gluten and dairy free naan to eat with it.

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Andy made me one of my favorite things that he makes a few other times a year: Eggplant Moussaka. He uses the Primal recipe that can be found here at Mark’s Daily Apple.

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I bought the ingredients for the Chicken Korma dish at Nugget Markets, and the rest of the ingredients needed to complete our dessert, a Black Bean Brownie mix I was sent by Breads from Anna.

BlackBeanBrownie

The gluten free mix contains powdered honey, cocoa powder, tapioca starch, arrowroot, millet flour, chia flour, chickpea flour, navy bean flour, pinto bean flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, sea salt, xanthan gum, so I was pretty happy to make it. All I did was add some coconut oil, a cup of coffee, and a can of organic black beans (following the package intructions).

I baked them in a cupcake pan (because portion control, baby!) and when they came out, I poked holes in the top and drenched each one with Kahlua. Kahlua makes everything taste better. :)

Then I frosted them with melted semisweet chocolate, and decorated them with coconut manna that I had melted a bit and sweetened with stevia (and colored with a few drops of food coloring to make it pink).

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I made this candle holder for the table to sit out on every anniversary or Valentine’s Day. It’s made from 36 corks from bottles of red wines we have enjoyed together over the past three and a half years.

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I made it with a glass plate, glue gun and ribbon for less than $10, including the candle. :)

This blog entry would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the wines we drank with dinner!

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To start things off right, we toasted with a glass of Ayala Champagne. Because you should drink Champagne and not sparkling wine on Valentine’s Day! ;)

The next wine to the right is a Riesling made by Gainey. You can find their current release of Riesling here. The 2004 on the bottle worried me slightly, as I thought it might have been over-the-hill, but it still tasted great and was a perfect match for the Chicken Korma.

Then, with the Eggplant Moussaka, we drank a 2011 Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah (one of Andy’s favorite wines I had bought for him for Christmas). I would say this Petite Sirah is for you if you think you don’t like that particular varietal—because Stag’s Leap makes theirs so…velvety, soft and sophisticated.

You can find Breads from Anna on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

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Thanks again to Nugget Markets for sponsoring our stay-at-home Valentine’s celebration. You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

valentines spread

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Drink Wine Day is February 18th, Celebrate with Tandoor Chef and Win a $250 Wine Gift Card

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Indian cuisine is one of the most interesting food and wine pairings. Tandoor Chef has recently developed a pairing tool to help you choose the best compliment (wine or beer) to their restaurant quality authentic Indian cuisine.

And to celebrate the upcoming National Drink Wine Day on February 18th, my friends at Tandoor Chef are giving away a $250 wine gift card. You can enter by clicking this link!

The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine.  Wine has played an important role in history, religion and relationships.  We embrace the positive benefits of wine such as new friends, reduced risk of heart disease and the enhancement of food and life. I really didn’t need another reason to drink wine, but whoever came up with this holiday deserves a pat on the back and a big bottle of 2008 Opus One. ;)

Speaking of enhancement of food, Tandoor Chef has developed a line of gluten free items, which I will be reviewing very soon and doing a wine pairing of my own. They also have 11 selections under 300 calories per serving for those of you watching your waistline.

You can find Tandoor Chef on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Pinterest here, and on Instagram here.

Hope you’ll join us for National Drink Wine Day on February 18th and enter to win(e)! ;) Good luck!

 


Exploring Russian River Wineries and a Stay at the Applewood Inn


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