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Springtime in Wine Country

Posted Mar 29 2009 4:30pm

Last night felt like springtime in wine country! ;-) Mal and I were invited to a wine tasting event, featuring springtime-friendly wines from around the world, at the Fruit Center Marketplace. At the springtime wine event, we tasted and learned about many wonderful whites, reds and a rosé.

We tasted a selection of 8 different wines during the event. There wasn’t a wine that I didn’t like! 

The wine tasting was held in the cafe above the Fruit Center Marketplace. About 25-30 people were in attendance and the atmosphere was relaxed, but social. 

Our table shared a plate of cheese and crackers. 

The highlight of the cheese selection was the lemon stilton, which   is actually considered a “ dessert cheese.” I had no idea that “dessert cheeses” even existed– who would have guessed. For me, it’s the best of both worlds! :mrgreen:

Lemon stilton is white stilton cheese mixed with candied bits of lemon. It’s flavor is sweet and creamy (almost buttery) with a zing of lemon . It was delightful! 

My first serving of cheese and crackers was small, but by the end of the night, I ate about 3 times this portion. The lemon stilton was outstanding! (I was informed by the waitstaff that the Fruit Center Marketplace also sells a mango stilton! I need to get my hands on that variety ASAP!) 

Our first pour of wine was two whites with  light and bright flavors: 2008 Ken Forrester, Petite Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa) and 2007 Pomelo, Sauvignon Blanc (California).  

  • 2008 Ken Forrester, Petite Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
    The perfect aperitif wine to get the evening or gathering of friends started. Possessing a light yellow tone with aromatics of floral bouquet, lime and green apple. Nicely chilled, this wine is great on its own, and pairs well with lighter fare such as poultry, white fish and salads.  

    My thoughts: This wine was nice and crisp, sort of dry, and easy to drink. It tasted light and fresh– almost pure, and would be perfect for a relaxed night at home with friends or family. 

  • 2007 Pomelo, Sauvignon Blanc (California)
    The Asian fruit “Pomelo” is a member of the citrus family, mostly closely related to the grapefruit offering tangy, sweet citrus notes. Hence, this wine is aptly named after the fruit as it exhibits the delightful flavors reminiscent of a Pomelo crisp and refreshing, smooth on the palate, wonderfully enjoyed as a sipper on the porch or paired with shellfish and lighter, pasta dishes.  

    My thoughts: The Sauvignon Blanc was also crisp and light, but more vibrant in its flavors and aroma. Notes of grapefruit pervaded this wine. Even before I read the wine’s description, I said to Mal, “This is the perfect wine to drink our on balcony on a nice day.” I’ve already decided to save this bottle for just that occasion! 

The second round of pours included two more white wines. These wines were equally as crisp and fresh, but had more enticing aromas and flavor sensations. 

  • 2008 Crisos de Susana Balbo, Torrontes (Valle de Cafayette, Argentina)
    Enticing aromas with hints of peach pit, white pear, flowers, and orange citrus fruit. On the palate, it has beautiful structure and acidity with enticing fruit flavors that keep you clamoring for another sip. This wine is best enjoyed in its youth either by itself, or as a wonderful partner with smoked meats, mild to medium-strong cheeses, and shellfish, especially crab!  

    Interesting tidbit: The grapes for this wine are grown at 5,000 feet in Argentina, which is the highest place in the world where grapes are grown for wine. 

    My thoughts: Orange citrus and flowers were the strongest flavors in this wine. Mal and I both loved this wine because of its interesting aromas and flavor sensations. If you like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, you will LOVE this wine! 

  • 2007Palagetto,VernacciadiSanGimignano(Tuscany, Italy) 
    A wine with a light straw yellow color, with fresh, fruity citrus notes. The soft and creamy grape flavors of this wine meld with the balanced and pleasant acidity which combine to offer a long finish with lasting tones of honey. A great dinner white to pair with grilled vegetables, poultry and pasta.   

    Interesting tidbit: Italian white wines are all about stimulating the appetite,  so you can eat and drink red wine! 

    My thoughts: This wine was nice and smooth with subtle tones of honey. It would complement a pasta or chicken dish perfectly. 

Mal  really loved the Crios! He told me that we weren’t going home without a bottle! 

Our wine educator for the evening was Dan Michaud, Director of Education for Ruby Wines. Dan discussed each of the wines in detail as we tasted them. His explanation of the wines was thorough and included many interesting tidbits– from the wine itself and its producer to how the grapes are grown to his own personal experiences with the wines. Dan’s wine seminar was jam-packed with useful and interesting information, and he presented it in such a way that was easy to understand without sounding pretentious. 

The most important piece of advice that I took away from the wine tasting was Dan’s suggestion to trynew wines. He explained that drinking wine is all about pleasure. If you like a particular wine, that is all that matters. 

Our 5th taste of the evening was a rosé:

  • 2008 Domaine Houchart, Rosé (Cotes de Provence, France) 
    This is a delicious, fresh and fruity dry Rosé. Crafted from a blend of grapes. An easy hint of sweetness on the palate is followed up by a crisp, dry finished that pairs perfectly with the first barbecues of the season as well as with Asian cuisine and classic French dishes. 

    Interesting tidbit: White wines are made from skinless grapes while red wines get their color from the skins. (Ok, maybe I’m a little slow, but I didn’t know this!) Rosés are made by keeping the skins for just a little while during the fermentation process. 

    My thoughts: Back in 2007, I fell in LOVE with rosés while Mal and I were in Paris, but I haven’t drank a rosé since then–mostly because I don’t want people thinking that I am drinking White Zinfandel! Dan mentioned that restaurants are starting to carry Rosés and people are starting to drink them in public more often. Rosés are actually started to become cool! This wine was very dry with hints of fresh strawberries. So delish! 


In between the rosé and red wines, we were served a slice of cheese pizza and f ig and goat cheese flatbread – both of which hit the spot (especially after a few tastes of wine)! (The fig and goat cheese flatbread was SO GOOD and it was a store-bought frozen appetizer. I was very impressed!)

After the rosé, we moved onto summer reds. The first two that we tasted: 

  • 2007 Chateau de Pizay, Beaujolais (France)
    This wine has a beautifully fruity nose with hints of strawberries and raspberries. On the palate it is soft and fruity with a balanced level of acidity on the finish to make the flavors linger. A great seasonal transition wine from the cold days of winter to the bright warm days of springtime!  

    My thoughts: Berry flavors came through nicely and lingered on my tongue. I’m not sure how much I would enjoy this wine on a warm spring day, but on a chilly, gray day, it would be perfect. It made me want to cuddle up on my couch! 

  • 2007 A to Z Wineworks, Pinot Noir (Oregon) 
    This pinot noir is true to grape variety with bold aromatics and a palate to please, expressing a moderately-deep color and a soft tannin profile to match. The dark spices on the nose and palate complement the traditional Oregon Pinot Noir flavors of blackberry, raspberry, black cherry and earth. Enjoy with marinated grilled meats or salmon.  

And the last wine of the evening was the most interesting– and not because it has my husband’s name in it! ;-)

  • 2007 Yellow + Blue, Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)
    From high altitude vineyards and a unique climate in the Andes mountains, comes this stunner of a wine produced from 100% certified organic, estate-grown Malbec grapes. Intensely red in color, this offers aromas of plum, berries and spice to pair with roasted poultry, grilled meats and rosemary scented preparations.  

    Interesting tidbits: Instead of a bottle, this wine is packaged in a lightweight carton (sort of like a juice box). Its packaging helps reduce its carbon footprint by decreasing waste and shipping costs. The wine is put in one liter boxes that weigh 40 grams each (compared to 500 - 750g for a bottle). The wine is called “Yellow + Blue,” which makes green – cleaver, right? The packaging holds one liter, which is a third more wine than a regular bottle. Quality wine producers are starting to use this type of alternative packaging to bring down the costs of wine– it’s no longer just a marketing gimmick.

    My thoughts: Delicious! I love Malbec wines– they tend to be smoother than a Cabernet or a Merlot.  And, of course, I love the environmental-friendly packaging! 

Wine-tasters at the end of the event…

(This would have been a cute pic if it wasn’t blurry! :-?

Mal and I enjoyed ALL of the wines that were selected for the tasting, but we definitely had our favorites. We ended up purchasing four bottles… well, three bottles and a carton: 

  • 2007 Pomelo, Sauvignon Blanc (California)
  • 2008 Crisos de Susana Balbo, Torrontes (Valle de Cafayette, Argentina)
  • 2008 Domaine Houchart, Rose (Cotes de Provence, France) 
  • 2007 Yellow + Blue, Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)

What a fun event! Thank you Michael and the Fruit Center Marketplace for inviting us! We had a great time and learned a lot! :mrgreen:


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