Monday, November 21, 2011

What We're Drinking: Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy KHZ

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway,
Thanksgiving comes again!

unknown author

Photos courtesy BCZ

In addition to the baking, roasting, mashing, and zesting that occurs here on Thanksgiving Day is the ever important pouring. Although we are likely to offer more than these selections on Thursday, we wanted to share a peek of our libations menu with you before being swept up in all of our last-minute preparations both in the office and the kitchen.

Our first selection is Cuilleron Viognier from France's northern Rhone Valley. Established in 1920 by current owner and winemaker Yves Cuilleron's grandfather, the estate consists of a cellar in Verlieu and vineyard holdings in Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Côte-Rôtie, Saint-Péray, and Cornas. Yves' vinification principle? "Faire le plus simple possible." Keeping things as simple as possible includes incorporating local traditions at Caves Cuilleron, thus all of the grapes are hand-picked and sorted and natural yeasts are allowed to instigate fermentation. In the case of the Viognier, the grapes are pressed, allowed to settle with the must for 24 hours, and then moved into temperature controlled stainless steel vats, where alcoholic and malolactic fermentations take place. The wine is then aged sur lie for six months in French oak barriques and stainless steel.

The 2010 vintage is described as having a varietally appropriate nose of apricots and peaches with a well-balanced fresh and fruity palate and finish. Served chilled, Cuilleron Viognier will be lovely with our Thanksgiving meal.

Our second selection is a Copain Pinot Noir from California's Sonoma Valley. New to the Wizards' portfolio, Copain Wines are made by Wells Guthrie to be firmly rooted in California but with sensibilities from the European wine traditions he so admires. Robert Parker has remarked in The Wine Advocate, "One of my favorite California wine producers, Wells Guthrie, like a champion truffle-hunting dog, seems to unearth top vineyards for his wines." Josh Reynolds of International Wine Cellar  has said, "These were among the most vibrant and precise wines I tasted during my Sonoma tour."

Copain offers a range of varietals at three different levels: Tous Ensemble Blends, Les Voisins Blends, and Single Vineyard Wines. Our Thanksgiving selection will be Les Voisins Pinot Blend with a medium-light body, crisp acidity, and red fruit notes on the palate with low tannin.

And for our third selection... cider! If The New York Times' Eric Asimov says he's going to have Farnum Hill Extra Dry at the ready on Thursday, you know it's a great choice. You can read about Asimov's other alternatives to wine for Thanksgiving here. Please visit our October 6th blog entry to learn more about Farnum Hill and our excursion there in August.

Photo courtesy KHZ
We hope that these suggestions have been interesting and helpful.

Photo courtesy KHZ
We wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Irresistible: Nocino della Cristina

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is just over a week away. Hints have been dropped by the turning of our calendar pages to "November" and a few fleeting moments of seasonably appropriate weather, but you're certainly not the only one feeling caught a bit off guard. So if we may, let us suggest something delicious to add to your holiday menu and sip along the way. Nocino della Cristina is sure to make your planning process highly enjoyable!

Nocino della Cristina is a walnut liqueur from Napa Valley's Oak Knoll district. 100% natural with no artificial colors or ingredients, this Nocino has been described by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as "stately, concentrated, luxurious," delicious enough to earn a Superb/Highly Recommended rank with 90-95 points.

Monteverdi Spirits makes this artisanal liqueur with distilled Napa Valley grapes and walnuts then infused with carefully selected ingredients sourced from producers in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Enjoy on its own or as an accompaniment to dessert, especially those with a fruit and/or cream component. Our colleague poured Nocino della Cristina over simple vanilla ice cream and I found myself in heaven. Mmmm!

Nocino also adds silkiness and complexitiy to cocktails and coffee drinks. Here are a couple of cocktail recipes developed on the West Coast for your walnut liqueur pleasure...

NEGRONI UMBRIA from Angele in Napa
1 oz Nocina della Cristina
1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 oz Campari
Stirred with ice. Serve up or on the rocks with an orange twist.

CRISTINA by Gary Regan at the San Francisco Chronicle
2 oz Nocino della Cristina
1/2 oz Belvedere Cytrus Vodka
Stir on ice and serve up.

209 HARVEST by Press in St. Helena
1 oz Edge Hill Port
1 oz Nocino della Cristina
1 oz No. 209 Gin
Muddle with orange wedge and shake over ice.
Serve in a martini glass with orange wheel garnish.

Please ask your sales rep for additional recipes.

Our suggestion for you: Nocino della Cristina
Feeling better about the next week? We certainly hope so!