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Sep 22

Crossing Over

Good morning!  I was at a professional gathering this morning that discussed the use of podcasts, wikis, and blogs in adult/corporate learning. Thanks to that, I may have acquired a couple of more readers. Just so you new folks feel at home, let me point you towards a recent post that combined eLearning with wine (here).
I don’t necessarily enjoy podcasts. As a reflective learner with a short attention span, I prefer to get my information, chunked, by reading it and then processing it. Perhaps that is why I blog? However, I would like to point out that there are several wine podcasts out there, my favorite being Wine for Newbies. If you’re new to podcasts and want to learn more, as well as new to wine (and aren’t we all?), you may enjoy it. All you need is a computer to listen to it – no iPod necessary. His podcasts, by the way, are available via his blog. Oh the technology!
Enjoy! And check back later this evening – I’ve got a long overdue post germinating on the Zork cork. 

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Posted by Michelle at 9:34 am in Knowledge | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sep 19

WBW #25: Roundup!

Wbwlogo_1In what is an insanely quick turnaround time (less than a week) for what might be the largest Wine Blogging Wednesday ever, Sam has posted the round-up over at Becks & Posh. There is a huge selection to choose from; go read the entries and learn how the French stuff isn’t so threatening after all. Not only that, it comes in all price ranges!
Thanks Sam, for all the time & energy it took to post that round-up so quickly!

Our entry

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Posted by Michelle at 1:07 pm in WBW | Permalink | Comments ()
Sep 12

WBW #25: Toast the bubblies!

Wbwlogo_1Becks & Posh is after my heart. I love champagne. I love sparkling wine. Heck, I just love the bubbles. So it only seems right that I should do this WBW up in style. We hosted a Breakfast Party on Sunday and popped open not one, but two different bottles of champagne. I like to think I met all the challenges on Sunday, from actually cooking, to successfully pairing, to even finding a small Champagne house.

I’ll first bore you with the menu before I get on with it and let you know about the champagne. We served a simple quiche with ham and gruyere cheese (a recipe we picked up in Disney’s France at the EPCOT Wine & Food Festival). We matched that with rosemary-and-olive-oil-tossed red potatoes and an English muffin topped with ice wine jelly. It was all followed by a yummy fruit pizza/pie. (I can cook anything – as long as it involves a pie crust.) The food paired wonderfully with both bottles of bubbly.

Now for the bubbly. We went for a large house and a small one, hopefully meriting some of those extra kudos from Becks & Posh. Our large house – a Vilmart Champagne Grand Cellier Brut, NV, which we purchased from Microwines for $66. Our little guy  – Joel Falmet Champagne Brut Tradition, NV, also purchased from Microwines but for $29.99.

Mmm .. mmm… good! We all enjoyed both of the champagnes, but favorites were split evenly between those gathered. With these two champagnes, I think it all depends on your mood.

FalmetThe Joel Falmet was sort of edgy, considering that it’s "real" champagne. It was almost (but not quite) pink in color, especially when sitting next to the Vilmart. It had a bit more oomph, with some berries peeking out of the flavor. When we purchased the wines, we were told that Joel Falmet was a bit of a rebel. The domaine is located in Cotes des Bar, which is 70 miles southeast of all the big guys. These are the grapes that the large champagne houses use for blending. The domaine produces only about 1200 cases a year of the Brut Tradition, and less than 2000 cases total. This particular champagne is 70% pinot noir, 20% pinot meunier, and 10% chardonnay.

VilmartThe Vilmart was very light and traditional, with a very pale color
(amidst all the tiny bubbles). It had a delicate taste, very subtle,
almost creamy. This is a traditional champagne, very classy. Vilmart comes from the Montagne de Reims and was founded in 1872. It was founded by a man named Desire Vilmart. How can someone named Desire not make a good champagne? The domaine is still in the family. I read somewhere that Vilmart is considered "the poor man’s Krug." The champagne is aged in new French oak and is comprised of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir.

If you were paying attention, you noticed that the two champagnes are composed of opposite amounts of different grapes – most notably pinot and chardonnay.

Here’s the thing – if you’re in the mood for a really fun champagne that is still of high quality, yet affordable, go for the Joel Falmet.  It rates a full from us.

If you’re in the mood for something more traditional and classy, and you want to drop over $50, search out the Vilmart. It also scores a .

I’d buy either one again and I think they were both worth their dollar, something I haven’t found much of lately.

Oh, and Breakfast Parties? Lots of fun! No one has had a chance to have a bad day yet. I highly recommend it.

UPDATE: Sam has posted the Wine Blogging Wednesday Roundup over at Becks & Posh. Check it out!

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Posted by Michelle at 11:16 pm in Disney, Food and Wine Pairings, Tastings, WBW | Permalink | Comments (6)
Sep 08

Zap that price …

The Good Grape posted the other day about WineZap Mobile, which is a great little find. WineZap Mobile begins to solve a problem that Kevin and I encounter quite often. We are unknowingly paying too much for our wine.
Quite often I’ll be standing in the Cork & Bottle down the street. I know, as it’s happened many times, that they mark up their wines a little too much. Usually I’ll get home, enter the wine into CellarTracker, and discover that the average price for the wine is around $5 less than what I paid. It doesn’t matter. I’ll get seduced by the wine on the shelf or at the tasting and I keep buying. I am the ultimate definition of an impulse buyer (this also extends to shoes).
Usually I can halt an impulse buy with a dose of reality. WineZap provides that little bit of reality I need. All you need to do is just text the name and vintage of the wine to mobile@winezap.com. It will text or email you back with the lowest/highest/average prices for that wine. If you add your zip code, it will let you know where to buy it.
I tried this with the Woop Woop Shiraz yesterday and recieved this:

Woop Woop-Shiraz-Syrah/$7.47/$13.99/$10.96
No matching local retailers found.

The good news is that while I paid above the average, I paid below the high.

This is a nifty, free service. I can now picture myself asking the smug little wine guy at the Cork and Bottle why his price is so much above the national average. Maybe this is the first step in getting prices to actually make sense.

I only have two suggestions for improvement. The WineZap database doesn’t yet seem to be overly large. We often pick up Hangtime as an easy to drink Pinot Noir. Hangtime is not in their database. Neither is Cloudline, an Oregon Pinot I recently discovered. My other issue? They seem to have no information on stores in my area. These are just issues with expanding their database and that will, hopefully, come with time.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:30 am in Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)
Sep 07

Raise a glass of Woop Woop

In honor of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who always made me smile, we popped open a bottle of Aussie Shiraz the other night. The wine – 2005 Woop Woop Shiraz. Like Steve Irwin, the name made me smile. In case you’re curious, Woop Woop is apparently Australian slang for "the middle of nowhere in the Outback." The wine has a decent pedigree behind it, as a collaboration between Ben Riggs, the winemaker
of Penny’s Hill, and Tony Parkinson, owner of Penny’s Hill, so I went into it with high expectations.

I can’t say my hopes were dashed; this is an enjoyable wine. However, I expected it to be more bold, more remarkable. Other than the name and the cork (which is a separate post altogether), the most memorable thing about this wine is the black cherry. I think that saying it’s a fruit forward wine is a bit of an understatement. There is loads of dark fruits in this thing. And that’s fine. But I’m usually looking for a bit more excitement, a little more kick, when I pick up a Shiraz.

Our rating: Somewhere in between the two, I think.

2005 Woop Woop Shiraz
Jungle Jim’s, $11.99

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Posted by Michelle at 11:50 am in Tastings | Permalink | Comments (4)

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