Saturday, April 24, 2010

Holy Smoke: 2007 Bodegas El Nido Clio

Anticipation was high for a great dinner to kick off the weekend: wild game and 2005 Bordeaux. So when the so-called value bottle was a bust, we reloaded with a sure thing: 2007 Bodegas El Nido Clio from Spain's Jumilla.

Jumilla, a sure thing? Until recently, the Jumilla region was known for cranking out bulk wines that were hardly worthy of the praise and points awarded to northern Spain's superstars - Tempranillo from Rioja or Garnacha from Priorat. But change is afoot in today's Spanish southland.

The 2007 Bodegas El Nido Clio is a muscled blend of 70% Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Jumilla's Monastrell, a thick-skinned Spanish native grape known in France as Mourvèdre and elsewhere as Mataró, delivers rich, ripe flavors.

Dark purple in the glass, the Clio unfurled toasty aromas of dark fruit and violets that promised a gamey mouthful for the wild bird. And meaty it was, plush with blackberry fruit layered by smoke, leather, anise and a long, savory finish. Despite its heft, the wine's fresh mineral streak and balanced acidity made each bite o' bird even more delicious. After it was all gone (so sad), we were surprised to see the alcohol content listed at 15% as it didn't feel hot at all.

Sun-scorched, arid Jumilla straddles the Murcia region of southeastern Spain near Alicante. Bolstered by the efforts of wine importer Jorge Ordoñez, Jumilla's wine cred is on the rise as local winemakers combine their know-how with vintners from other successful Spanish winegrowing regions. Bodegas El Nido also benefits from its relationship with Chris Ringland, the iconic Barossa vigneron.

Ringland spreads his lush winemaking style across a range of prices, from his luxe R and Three Rivers wines to the moderately priced Garnacha, Bodegas Alto Moncayo "Veraton" Campo de Borja, and one of the best values in red wine, Pillar Box Red.

Now that we've tasted the Clio, we can only dream of landing a bottle of Bodegas El Nido El Nido Jumilla, which will set you back a C-note plus. At around $45, the Clio might give you pause but it's sure to get your weekend off to an unforgettable start.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Portugal's Vinho Verde

The guy at Trader Joe's was loading up. Slowly and carefully, he layered the bottom of his cart with rows of green long-necked wine bottles. "This is the only place I can get my Vinho Verde," he explained to no one in particular as the curious watched his stacking ritual.

For only $3.99, it made a what-the-heck buy. The back label says to store it upright and warns against gas or air-pumping openers, indicators of a ready-to-drink bubbly in need of a good chill.

Vinho Verde means green wine in Portuguese, as in young and perhaps a bit unripe. The white wine is a blend made from local grapes grown in Portugal's far north Minho region and one of the lightest whites you'll find. TJ's Espiral Vinho Verde pours pale straw in color, a frizzante with tiny bubbles that open up citrusy aromas with clean and crisp lemon-lime flavors. There's nothing too complex here – it might remind you of Sprite for grown-ups, minus the sweetness.

Like most Vinho Verde, the Espiral is low in alcohol (9% by volume). As the desert warms up, it can make a decent choice as a light poolside refresher to try at your next backyard party, whether for one or, at this price, 20 of your closest friends. Try it as an aperitif or serve it with lime-infused dips and foods such as guacamole, ceviche, salads or light fish and chicken dishes.

Let us know how you like it and whether you find another Vinho Verde elsewhere worth trying. The guy we saw just might clean out TJ's supply.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Coachella Wine Festival Pix

With help from other vendors, we caught a few sips and snapped a few pix at the Grand Tasting last weekend at Coachella Wine Festival. Next time, we'll plan for more help so we can have as much fun as these happy people did. Thanks to all for making it such a great time!
Winemaker Greg Jenkins and his Fleming-Jenkins wines were a huge hit - thanks Greg and Peggy for your classy presence and great juice.

Josie Genaro of Sisters Cupcakes by Design works her magic.
Brian Ricci and Renaissance Esmeralda's CAVA/Sirocco staff season up organic beet ravioli stuffed with mozzarella, spinach and ricotta, dusted with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. Deliziosi!
Johnny Meza (center) with Todd Ashley and Mike Dooley are top-notch music machines who filled the air with their great sound.
Banker Bill doesn't miss a trick - having fun at the Fest!

See you April 30th for our Rodney Strong wine dinner at Bellatrix in support of the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign. Catch all the details here!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Grand Tasting at Coachella Wine Festival

Sunday chores are almost done so we can beeline over to Miramonte Resort for Coachella Wine Festival's Grand Tasting today from 1 to 5 PM. Chef Robert Nyerick told us Friday night's celebrity wine dinner with Peggy Fleming Jenkins and hubby Greg was so perfect in every way, he wouldn't have changed a thing. It was all harmony, between their Fleming Jenkins wines, Chef's spot-on food, the peaceful setting in Miramonte's herb garden, weather and yes, even moonlight added its magic. We also heard raves for the confections and wines served that night at the Dessert Soirée.

We spotted the lovely Olympian gold medalist at the shopping bazaar as tasters took a break to check out the debut of local artist Diane Kline, lovelies by Custom Vintage Wine Cellars, fashions by Andrea Paris, art from Howard's Backdoor Gallery and Frame Shop, jewels in a variety of tastes and price ranges and more.

The shaded outdoor tasting area featured a boatload of wines and lip-smacking culinary treats – one look at the lineup on the festival Web site and you know there's good eats to be had. Worker-bees got hungry just listening to festival-lovers rave about the short ribs and pulled pork, not to mention the lighter fare, so perfect on a sunny afternoon.

We found this berry and spice-rich Shiraz from Victoria, Australia at the Cooralook booth. Made from grapes grown in red soil not far from Melbourne, Heathcote's Shiraz shows fine tannins and rich texture laced with ripe plum and blackberry flavors around a lick of licorice.

Better wrap up those chores so we can get going – it's not too early to be thinking about wine, is it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Member Tasting at Wine Vault

Thanks to Wine Vault for inviting WinewomenPSP members to a wine tasting for their clients and friends last Friday night. Besides rolling out an assortment of great wines from California and around the world, they also kept hunger pangs at bay with roasted veggies, cheeses, snacks and juicy tri-tip hot off the grill by New Leaf Catering. Nice!

Make it your business to know this state-of-the-art wine storage facility in north Palm Desert, across the way from Sun City. With nearly six months of heat coming up, you might want to check out what they offer – at affordable rates for wine enthusiasts. They're not just for connoisseurs, country clubs and restaurants. You too can afford to store your private wine stash at Wine Vault under temperature and humidity-controlled conditions that will keep your bottled babies at their best. WVOTD also provides security monitoring, online inventory management software and a backup generator in case of power failures. In other words, they've got you – and your wines – covered.

Southern Wine and Spirits not only brought out an arsenal of wine but also spiced up the tasting with tips for food-wine pairings. A few faves from the crowd, all available for order at knock-down prices: New Zealand's Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough), Rodney Strong "Chalk Hill" Chardonnay (Sonoma), Antinori "Villa Red" Sangiovese-Cabernet-Merlot blend (Tuscany), Paul Dolan Cabernet Sauvignon made from organically grown grapes (Mendocino) and a host of popular picks from Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle and more New and Old World producers.

Cachet Fiore's table arrangements added touches of color while savory crisps by Love At First Bite kept tasting palates refreshed.

You can find out about Wine Vault's summer specials, freebies, pick-up services and their restaurant partner program that waives corkage fees for WVOTD members at some of the valley's best dining spots by calling Jack, Ralph and their team at 760.345.3000 or online at

Overheard from a group of ladies who'd never been to this type of wine tasting as they busily filled out ticket orders for the April 9-11 Coachella Wine Festival: "This is so much fun, we've got to go all three days!" We'll drink to that.