Monday, July 26, 2010

"Top Shelf Wine Tasting" at the Rustic Cellar in Boca Raton!

Nothing like a “Top Shelf Wine Tasting” to make a girl smile – well, maybe a sale at Saks but it’s close! The Rustic Cellar, a local wine bar in Boca Raton, Florida recently hosted such a tasting featuring a variety of special selections. Located in the heart of Royal Palm Place, this wine bar offers an extensive wine selection with more than 300 hand-selected vintages from across the globe and a fabulously cozy atmosphere to sit, relax and enjoy your favorite glass. This establishment focuses on small production, low-case lot wines with an affection for domestic vintages, including Spring Mountain Cabernets, Oregon Pinots, Sonoma Chardonnays, and Washington State Merlots.

Appropriately, the tasting began with Champagne, the Krug Grande Cuvée to be exact. Unlike most Champagne houses, the wines used for Krug Champagnes undergo primary fermentation in oak barrels, resulting in a very distinct, signature style. The three main Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir all play a role in this delectable “multi-vintage” offering. This particular cuvée is an assemblage of as many as 50 wines, 20 to 25 separate crus, and 6 to 10 reserve vintages that is aged for at least 6 years before release. With a beautiful golden color and aromas of toasted brioche and white flowers, this wine exhibited delicious flavors of candied citrus, ginger and toasted hazelnut – elegance in a glass and the perfect start to the tasting.

Second was the 2007 Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay from California. I know, California Chardonnay, eek, right? However, Newton’s approach to winemaking is based on old-world techniques including natural fermentation and bottling without filtration. This sublime 100% Chardonnay is fermented with wild yeast native to the Carneros vineyards and bottled unfiltered to both preserve the natural fruit essence and foster the wine’s unique aroma and flavor. Aromas of crème caramel, butterscotch and vanilla preceded flavors of baked apple, caramel, honey and Butter Rum Lifesavers with a nice mineral finish. After sampling this unique, well-crafted wine I understand why it is often referred to as “the red wine drinkers white wine.”

Next was Newton’s 2005 “The Puzzle,” a wine crafted to represent the finest expression of its Spring Mountain Estate. Much like finding the right pieces to a puzzle, the winemaker hand selects fruit from 112 separate vineyard blocks and assembles them to create a multi-faceted blend. To preserve the true character of each parcel, the fruit remains isolated by vineyard block for natural fermentation and barrel aging. This heady blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 4 % Petit Verdot was a deep ruby, violet color with aromas of juniper, rosemary and spice. Bold flavors of blackberry, black licorice, and earthy tobacco were followed by a long, lingering mocha finish. For a California red wine, I have to say, this wine had a dearth of fruit, exhibiting mostly herbal, earthy notes.

Our second red of the evening had a true Napa pedigree, the 2005 Heitz Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Heitz Wine Cellars is a small, family-owned winery that has been producing exemplary wines from the Napa Valley for three generations. The Heitz family has built a reputation for excellence and earned oodles of accolades for its wines every year since 1961. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon offering was crafted entirely from estate grown grapes and had an alluring bouquet of ripe black cherry and delicious flavors of cassis, spice cake and milk chocolate. It was a beautifully balanced wine with firm tannins and a persistent, lovely finish.

Our final wine of the evening was a Spanish stunner, the 2006 Numanthia Termanthia. Bodega Numanthia was originally founded in 1998 by the Eguren family, native of Rioja, to create the best wine of the Toro appellation. Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo) is the single grape variety used in the region that is situated in northwest Spain in the Castilla y Leon region, close to the Portuguese border. Grapes from low yielding, 120 year old, pre-phylloxera vines were used to produce this wine that has consistently garnered 94-100 point ratings from Robert Parker since its release. This wine was inky and deep purple in color with rich, complex aromas of dark fruit, espresso and smoldering spice. On the palate it was larger than life with dense tannins and sexy flavors of smoky blackberry, cocoa and truffles with a long, lingering finish. It is a very unique and exceptional wine and the perfect one to end our evening.

Cheers to The Rustic Cellar and for a fabulous wine tasting event that rivals a sale at Saks any day of the week!

The Rustic Cellar
409 SE Mizner Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Four Star Fourth Celebration at 32 East in Delray Beach!

Now I may not be very good at math, but I do know that Summer + BBQ + Zinfandel = delicious! This Fourth of July, I had the chance to experience this edible equation first hand at a "Family Style Zinfandel & BBQ" dinner in honor of this most American of holidays. Acclaimed Chef Nick Morfogen of 32 East in Delray Beach played against type to create a down-home, Midwest-inspired meal for guests who brought bottles of Zinfandel to pair with the delicious offerings.

The evening began with a "Global Tasting of Rosé Wines" including a variety of delicious rosés from around the world paired with passed hors d'oeuvres including Lemony Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Mayo and House Smoked Fish Dip with Pickled Jalapenos. The dinner menu included a salad of Summer Lettuces with Bing Cherries & Candied Walnuts in Zinfandel Vinaigrette followed by Smoked Pork Butt, Spicy Baby Back Ribs & Grilled BBQ Chicken with Baked Beans, Yukon Gold Potato Salad and a delicious, vinegar-based slaw. Guests arrived toting bottles bearing names like Turley, Biale and Seghesio. As a fan of Zinfandel, it was nice to see this grape getting some respect!

In addition to the rosés, our table enjoyed a bottle of 2005 Peter Franus Napa Valley Zinfandel and a 2006 Turley Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley Zinfandel with dinner and the 2006 Four Vines Paso Robles Zinfandel Port paired with a dessert of "Red, White & Blue" Brownie Sundae with Raspberry Coulis, Blueberries and Vanilla Ice Cream. The Peter Franus Zin was the standout wine of the evening, leaving everyone wanting more once the bottle was gone!

The flavors of the Zins complemented Chef Morfogen’s menu beautifully, and at $50 per person, this event turned out to be a great value and something a little different from Delray Beach's premier dining establishment. Cheers to 32 East for a Four Star Fourth of July Celebration, I'm already looking forward to next year.