Notes on Norton
If you like trying interesting wines, then feast your eyes and tastebuds on this varietal. It’s called Norton, and it’s the oldest native grape in the United States!
Norton is named after Dr. Daniel Norton, and is similar in taste and smell to its European cousins. It’s a tough grape and can survive harsh weather conditions and was resistant to diseases that many French varietals would succumb to when brought into this country.
These all-American Norton wines had soon after become renowned in Europe (during the 1873 Vienna World Exposition a Norton from Hermann, Missouri won a gold medal), served at the White House, and enjoyed by many until 1920 when Prohibition forced farmers to rip up their Norton vines (along with Cabernet and Merlot vines) and plant table grapes (Concord) in their place.
During Prohibition, people secretly drank wines that came from other countries, and that did not include Norton, so when the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933 by the ratification of the 21st Amendment, Norton was rarely planted.
After 56 years, Norton was more or less forgotten about until a man named Dennis Horton bought some land in Virginia he would dedicate to the planting of Norton for winemaking. Since then, Norton has slowly been making a comeback. In the states of Virginia (the largest single planting of Norton in the world is 69 acres at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA), in Missouri where it had first become popular, and even in California. In 2009, Riedel jumped on the bandwagon and created a glass specifically for wine made from the Norton grape!
The bottle of Norton pictured above was produced by Heringer Estates in Clarksburg, California, just south of Sacramento. We received it as a wedding present from a friend back in September and had the chance to open it just the other night. Heringer Estates only has 5 acres of Norton, but manages to produce such a beautiful wine with their crop. It’s a very dry wine, yet somehow it’s got a luscious raisin flavor and aroma. Pretty mouthwatering.
Curious to try? You can buy Norton directly online from Heringer Estates here. Cheers!
Wine Bloggers Conference to Take Place in Lodi, California from August 11-14
After a little hesitation, I finally signed up for the Wine Bloggers Conference taking place in Lodi, California from August 11th-14th. Why did I wait so long? Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect, really. But after chatting with a few other wine bloggers (Traveling Wine Chick in particular) and Public Relations Pro Heather Atherton, I was convinced it was a weekend not to miss!
I am very excited to attend my first blogger conference and that it will be specifically for people who blog about wine. In the past five years or so, I have moved more towards the grape and have had the opportunity to travel to different wine regions throughout Northern California, and write about my experiences. A big reason for this is because I have the best travel partner in Andy, as shares my love for food, wine and travel.
I look forward to a weekend full of learning, making new friends, networking, incredible food, and of course tasting wine.
If you haven’t signed up yet, I urge you to do so. There are lots of fun surprises planned for Friday, August 12th during the afternoon-evening dinner excursion. I’m not even sure what exactly has been prepared, but the conference attendees will be splitting into small groups and taken to different wineries/locations for dinner. I can hardly wait! 🙂
I am attaching the conference itinerary below in utter anticipation of the upcoming conference (and perhaps to encourage you if you have a wine blog or are in the industry to attend!)
2016 WINE BLOGGERS CONFERENCE, LODI CALIFORNIA AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10
2:00 PM – Arriving bloggers picked up at Sacramento International Airport and whisked away to Pre-Conference Excursions in several wine regions (in Lodi, bloggers will walk through vines and meet winegrowers showcasing “Experimental and Ancient Vines”)
THURSDAY, AUGUST 11
4:00 PM – Drop Off at Host Hotels from Pre-Conference Excursions
6:00–8:30 PM – Registration and Lodi Opening Reception
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12
8:00–9:00 AM – Registration
9:00 AM – Opening & Welcome
9:10 AM – Keynote Address by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson
9:55 AM – History of Grape Growing and Winemaking in Lodi: A talk on how Lodi became a pre-eminent wine region; moderated by Mark Chandler (Lodi City Mayor and former Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission), with panelists Aaron Lange (LangeTwins Family Vineyards Manager and Vice Chair of California Association of Winegrape Growers), Kevin Phillips (Michael David Winery/Phillips Farms Vice President of Operations), and Markus Bokisch (Bokisch Vineyards Owner/Grower).
11:00 AM – The Truth About Viticulture Panel: Moderated by Stuart Spencer (Program Director of Lodi Winegrape Commission and St. Amant Winery Owner/Grower/Winemaker), with panelists Tegan Passalacqua (Turley Wine Cellars Director of Winemaking), Stan Grant (Viticulturist, Progressive Viticulture), and Chris Storm (Viticulturist, Vino Farms).
11:55 AM – Lunch and Expo (including the new Writers Corner)
1:45 PM Wine – One of three Wine Discovery Sessions, including sessions hosted by
• U.C. Davis : U.C. Davis alumnus Loyal Miner discusses Clarksburg Viticultural Area and Miner’s Leap family estate.
• Visit Oakland
• Consorzio Italia diVini & Sapori: Deborah Parker Wong DWSET presents the varied and delicious wines of Italy’s Veneto, from Prosecco to Amarone
3:00 PM – Live Wine Blogging (White & Rosé): The Wine Bloggers Conference’s pre-eminent event, in which 25 winemakers have five minutes each to pour their wine, present their story, and answer questions from a table of bloggers. At the end of five minutes, winemakers will rotate to a new table. Bloggers will analyze and describe their impressions live via social media or their blogs.
4:00–8:30 PM – Excursions into Lodi Wine Country: Eight different excursions going to eight different Lodi winery/estates; each excursion to include hands-on winery or vineyard activities, tastings, and dinner.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13
9:15–10:15 AM – Breakout Sessions, including
• Advanced Social Media for the Wine Industry: Beth Peluse (Zephyr Adventures) and Maria Frangieh (wine industry digital marketing consultant) discuss their favorite social media platforms and how to utilize them to promote blogs and Web sites.
• Traffic Analysis – Dan Morris and Rachel Martin of Blogging Concentrated discuss data usage such as Google’s Search Console, BrainstormTools, and Facebook Insightsto increase traffic and revenue.
• Wine Samples: Marisa Indelicato (Fox Run Vineyards), Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like), Rebecca Gomez Farrel (The Gourmez) and Chris O’Gorman (Rodney Strong Vineyards ) discuss the intricate, often indelicate dance involving procurement of bottle samples from the wine industry.
10:30–11:30 AM – Breakout Sessions, including
• Social Media Platforms: Beth Peluse (Zephyr Adventures) and Maria Frangieh (wine industry digital marketing consultant discuss Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Periscope, the four hottest photo and video social media platforms on the internet, and best practices and tips and tricks of the trade for building community and audience.
• Climate Change: Michael Fagin (West Cost Weather LLC) discusses how climate change in United States wine regions will impact the major wine growing regions of Washington, Oregon, California, and New York, and how the industry is adjusting.
• Monetization: Dan Morris and Rachel Martin of Blogging Concentrated discuss earning a respectable income through blogging with use of Ad Networks, Adsense, Affiliate programs, display ads, product sales and by becoming a paid consultant.
1:00–2:00 PM – Wine Discovery Sessions, including
• Discovery Session : Wine Educator May Matta-Aliah DWS presents Au Natural Alsace: The leadership role taken by France’s Alsace region in Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Wines, sponsored by Wines of Alsace.
• Discovery Session: Yealands Family Wines Winemaker Tamra Kelly-Washington leads a tasting/discussion of the world’s first carboNZeroCertTM certified winery, located in Marlborough, New Zealand’s extremely windy, cold, coastal Awatere Valley.
2:15–3:15 PM – Wine Blog Award Winners Panel: Five winners of the 2016 Wine Blog Awards tell their stories; including Sophie Thorpe from Berry Bros. & Rudd, Mary Cressler from Vindulge, Jill Barth from l’Occasion, Susan Manfull and Jerry Clark from Provence WineZine, and moderator Sujinder Juneja from Town Hall Brands.
3:15–4:15 PM Live Wine Blogging (Red Wines): The Wine Bloggers Conference’s pre-eminent event, in which 25 winemakers have five minutes each to pour their wine, present their story, and answer questions from a table of bloggers. At the end of five minutes, winemakers will rotate to a new table. Bloggers will analyze and describe their impressions live via social media or their blogs.
4:30–5:30 PM – From Passion to Pro – Getting Paid to Write About Wine: Moderator Randy Caparoso (LoCA’s lodiwine.com and The SOMM Journal Editor Editor-at-Large) discusses how to make the jump from personal blogging to paid wine journalism, while sharing secrets of their success, with panelists Debra Meiburg MW (Debra Meiburg Master of Wine), Jameson Fink (Wine Enthusiast Magazine) and Deborah Parker Wong (The Tasting Panel Magazine, Vineyard & Winery Management, and Consorzio Italia diVini & Sapori).
5:30-7:00 PM – Wines of the World Receptions featuring Wines of Alsace from France, Yealands Family Wines from New Zealand, and wines from the Consorzio Italia diVini & Sapori from Italy.
7:00–9:00 PM – Dinner with LoCA (Wines of Lodi)
9:00 –9:30 PM – Wine Blog Awards Presentation: Presentation of 2016 Wine Blog Award winners will be presented their awards.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14
9:30 – 10:30 AM – Breakout Sessions, including
• The Big Jump – Austin Beeman (of Understanding Wine, former Ohio wine retailer and Bonny Doon Director of Marketing) discusses why wineries are “desperately seeking” the skills of wine bloggers.
• Increase Your Audience & Engagement: Mary Cressler and Sean Martin of Vindulge discuss going from social media groups to television producers, freelancing to working with other media sites, and finding ways to promote your blog and increase your community engagement.
10:45 – 11:45 AM – Blogger Reports: Five-minute reports shared by fellow bloggers describing what they are doing to contribute to the world of wine blogging.
11:45 AM – 12:00 PM – Conference Closing
12:15 PM – Departure for Post-Conference Excursions to Ironstone Vineyards in Calaveras, and in Lodi (an exploration of Lodi’s “Heritage Vineyards and Ancient Vines”
You can find me there from Friday-Sunday morning!
You can find the Wine Bloggers Conference on Facebook here.
DON’T MISS OUT!! Register for #WBC16 by clicking HERE!
Catch #WBC16 on Twitter @winebloggerscon for any updates and new information.
Flights By Night #2: A Sangiovese & Cabernet Pairing
Today’s “Flights by Night” features a Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon matched up with my Spicy and Sweet Tomato, Beef and Mushroom Sauce over Roasted Spaghetti Squash.
A traditional pairing with any spicy red sauce would be a sangiovese, and we chose one by Luna Vineyards. Most sangiovese have an acidic body accented with bright, red fruit flavors, very similar to the flavor notes of a tomato (that of course would be the main ingredient in a red sauce). 😉 The acid in the wine fends off the heat of the red pepper flakes in the sauce.
Speaking of the sauce… Sometimes when preparing a meal during a busy work week, one has to take some shortcuts. For instance, I used a jar of organic 365 Everyday Value Pasta Sauce from Whole Foods as a base for my sauce and added:
1 sauteéd onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs dried basil (Litehouse Foods has a freeze dried basil I absolutely love!)
1 pound grassfed ground beef
Then, I wilted 1 cup fresh basil into the sauce right before serving.
The spaghetti squash was the easy part. I preheat my oven to 400°F, then I poke holes in the squash before microwaving for about 4 minutes (so that I can cut it more easily). I cut the squash open and remove the seeds, then put the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet. I also season the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Then I bake the squash until it gets all roasty and browned on the edges. 🙂
You can also cook your squash in a crockpot—You don’t de-seed it until after cooking. Just poke holes in the squash, pour 2 cups of water in the crockpot, place the squash in the pot and let it cook on the low setting while you’re at work all day. If you make your sauce ahead of time, you’ll have dinner in less than 5 minutes! 🙂
The other wine we paired with dinner was a bottle of Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes sense because of the richness of the beef in the sauce. Also, most of our 2012 Cabernets are just getting old enough to enjoy now in late 2015, because they have aged for 3 years. Their tannins have softened and the fruit is lush. Besides, most wine produced domestically is made to drink sooner than later, so don’t wait too long to open that bottle you’ve been aging. Nothing is worse than opening a bottle that is over the hill (besides opening a bottle that is corked)! Cheers!
Pork and pinot on the next Flights By Night? Stay tuned… 🙂
Flights By Night #1
Hello food and wine lovers! Today is the start of a new series called “Flights by Night”. Each post is intended to be a short and sweet glimpse of some of the Paleo/Primal meals and wine pairings that Andy and I enjoy when we cook at home. Perfect to give you ideas for dinner and short enough to give a quick read.
First up was Tuesday night’s dinner: Beef sliders with blue cheese and mushrooms, on tomato and red onion stacks, and a side of Brussels sprouts.
We paired the burgers with Bella Winery Two Patch Zinfandel and Rombauer Merlot.
The Zinfandel was an obvious pairing with the burgers, but the Rombauer was a special choice for a Tuesday night. Andy says, “it’s (the Rombauer Merlot) a soft, round wine with a nice touch of oak and cocoa flavors. Very long finish.” I thought the fruit in the Merlot was a great match for the mushroom topping on the burgers.
Thanks so much to Andy for having dinner ready for me so many times when I get home, as well as meticulously choosing the wines we will share with the meal. 🙂
What will he come up with next? Stay tuned for the next Flights by Night. 🙂
Matteo’s Wows a Sold Out Crowd with Rombauer Wine Pairing Dinner
Last Wednesday evening, Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro hosted a sold out Rombauer Wine Dinner, that was one of the most fun and memorable events I have attended since I have been writing this blog. It was very special because it was Andy’s birthday and we shared a table with some close friends of ours (who are also Matt Woolston fanatics) to celebrate.
The evening began on the patio with a vertical tasting of the 2013 and the 2014 Rombauer Chardonnay. I enjoyed both vintages (the year age difference of the wine alone made the two unique), the 2013 a softer mellowed wine and the 2014 a more vibrant, food-friendly wine.
While we were tasting the two Chardonnays, there were a trio of appetizers being served to the guests. They included:
Bruschetta with grilled fig, whipped brie and balsamic local honey glaze
It’s the perfect time of year for figs, and the pairing of the cheese and balsamic glaze is always a fun combination. I love August because figs are in full swing. It’s just another example of how Matteo’s and Supper Club Catering really adopt the Farm-to-Fork concept by choosing to use in season ingredients and elevating their flavor.
Another passed appetizer was Torched Wild Salmon with white miso marinade on sesame wonton crisp
This Asian-inspired appetizer was another example of an ingredient that is currently at it’s best: wild salmon. Salmon is one of Andy’s favorite foods, so I was happy to see it on the menu. It was a perfect bite with the miso marinade and the crisp of the wonton chip. The kitchen also prepared a version of this appetizer on a spoon without the wonton chip. It was a great variation and a beautiful plating arrangement as you can see.
Foie gras BLT with pan-seared foie gras, basil lemon aioli, heirloom tomato and micro arugula on whole wheat walnut sourdough toast
I am always pleased with the food creativity at Matteo’s and Supper Club Catering, and with this appetizer, you can understand why. The bits of foie gras were crisped up to act as bacon in this mini play on a BLT. This was a very popular appetizer with the entire crowd.
Appetizer Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Chardonnay 2013, Carneros
Rombauer Chardonnay 2014, Carneros
Blistered sweet corn soup in demitasse with Applewood smoked bacon shingle and harissa chili oil
This was one of my favorite courses. The chef explained to us that the soup is actually vegan and then he “went and messed it up with bacon.” No mistake there—the crispy bacon was a lovely highlight to the dish both visually and in taste. The soup was sweet and spicy and rich even without the addition of cream.
First Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Sauvignon blanc 2014, Napa Valley, the first new varietal introduced in more than 20 years and only the second white wine in Rombauer’s 35-year history. I recall it being more round in flavor, and by that I mean not so astringent. Instead of the grapefruit one would typically pick up in a New Zealand-style Sauv Blanc, there was more stone fruit (peach, apricot) essence that matched up quite well with the sweetness of the corn in the soup.
Pizza with shredded rabbit leg confit, braised fennel, olive oil poached tomato, Italian fontina and Dijon garlic white sauce
OK, I realize this website focuses on gluten free, but Andy and I are not actually celiac or gluten intolerant, so we occasionally enjoy foods that happen to have gluten. It’s just part of a wine dinner more often than not, and because we don’t attend wine dinners every night, it’s fun to splurge when we do. That being said, when you don’t have a real slice of pizza for a few years and then have a slice at Matteo’s it makes the slice all the more delightful! 🙂 I truly enjoyed this crusty, cheesy bread topped tomato, one of my favorite cheeses, fontina, and rabbit leg confit. By the way, they nailed it on the pairing—a juicy, but not overly fruit forward Merlot.
Second Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Merlot 2012, Napa Valley
Grilled leg of lamb and lamb crisps on baby field greens with goat cheese Parmesan, macerated stone fruit, toasted pistachio and plum mint vinaigrette
I have to say this course was one of my favorites. I loved the bed of greens the lamb was sitting on. I am a pistachio addict and the chards of the parmesan made me so happy. Then there was the lamb. Lamb two ways, actually. And lamb leg happens to be my favorite. Thanks, Matteo’s. I loved this plate (I didn’t eat it by myself, FYI) 😉 because there were so many textures going on. Lamb crisps should be put in a bag and sold!
Third Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley. Cabernet is a phenomenal choice to pair with lamb.
Grass fed Wagyu beef sliders with fried green tomato, house made portabello bacon, garlic aioli and cave aged blue cheese on Brioche bun served with truffle asiago shoestring fries
I can officially be quoted as saying that this burger is the best one I have ever had from a restaurant. (Though I have heard Formoli’s is also quite good). If you never go to Matteo’s to try anything else, go there for the burger. The meat is sourced from Lucky Dog Ranch, another high quality ingredient. The fried green tomato was a decadent garnish, as well as the blue cheese. Everyone at our table went crazy for the fries, doused in truffle and asiago. It was so delightful to see a burger paired with a high end wine like the Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection. Such great ingredients deserve such a stunning wine.
Fourth Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection 2011, Napa Valley. A softer cab than the previous one, velvety and rich, just like the burger and fries. Heavenly.
I didn’t get an acceptable picture of dessert, but my favorite part of it was the peanut brittle cookie on the plate with the terrine. It was a bit like tasting peanut butter and jelly– the jelly part being the Rombauer Zinfandel pairing.
Broken Banana Split: Bittersweet chocolate peanut butter terrine on berry coulis with banana foster ice cream, peanut brittle and bourbon vanilla bean whipped cream
Dessert Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Zinfandel 2013, Sierra Foothills/Northern California
If you haven’t visited Matteo’s just yet, here’s a good excuse: They’ll be hosting a wine tasting event on Wednesday, August 12th 6-7:30 PM featuring the ollowing wineries: Alfaro, Lexington Winery, Mount Eden Estate, Sonnet, and Windy Oaks. It’s $15 per person to participate. If you would like to attend, contact Wine Shop Dave at wineshop at pizzamatteo.com or call (916)779-0727.
You can like Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro on Facebook here or follow them on Twitter 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.
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.
On the side we had a medley of roasted vegetables roasted in coconut oil.
We also had a salad with the meal (as we almost always do), studded with mushrooms, blueberries and toasted pine nuts.
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.
Drink Wine Day is February 18th, Celebrate with Tandoor Chef and Win a $250 Wine Gift Card
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!
Recipe: Rhubarb and Onion Ketchup with Wine Pairing
Ultimate wine pairing: Rhubarb Ketchup and New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc.
Yes, believe me. It happened. I made butternut squash fries and a nifty little “ketchup” to pair with them. It turns out that the wine I happened to also be sampling was a perfect match for the tangy, tart New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc.
Here’s the recipe, it’s very simple.
3 stalks rhubarb
1/2 large yellow onion
2 Tbs molasses
3 packets of stevia or 2 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt
Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and finely dice the onion. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a pot and sauté the onion until it’s translucent. Then turn down the heat to low-ish/medium and add the rhubarb. Then add the molasses, salt, and stevia, and about 1/2 cup of water. Cook on low heat until the mixture becomes a thick ketchup consistency.
Its just that easy. Serve on top of potatoes, pork, chicken, or better yet, lamb burgers!
Happy 4th of July! 🙂