21 Oct 2010
I’ve come to realize that we don’t celebrate life enough. Why do we wait for the “special occasions” to break out a bottle of bubbly? Isn’t every day a miracle and an excuse to celebrate? I have a co-worker who has been out on long term disability for nearly a year. At the age of 32 she had a massive brain aneurism that altered her life forever. Her husband and two small children have rallied around their wife and mom but life isn’t the same. She was getting ready to come back to the team this month but I recently learned that she “took a turn for the worse” and will probably never come back. While I was at music practice at church, one of the singers shared that her mother-in-law’s house burned to the ground last week. They lost everything and are now scrambling to put the pieces of their lives back together.
A day that we are alive, healthy and with those we love is a day to celebrate. Everyone needs a little more sparkle in their life. To this, I say, let’s get it poppin’ – the corks that is! My Twitter friend (I hope I can call him friend) Dale Cruse is on a mission to drink bubbly every day for a year. More than 3 months into his quest, he is still going strong. I encourage you to take a break from your routine and join the world wide celebration on Friday, October 28. Together, we’ll pop the cork on thousands of bottles of Champagne to celebrate…LIFE!
My good bud, Chris O (trust me, just O because you can’t pronounce his last name), is hosting the event and participation is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- Register at http://champagne-day.eventbrite.com – This keeps you in the loop of all the latest happenings and event update.
- Call all your friends and invite them over (make sure you have enough Champagne) – If you want to get all formal about it, you can organize your own meet up here >> http://www.meetup.com/Champagne-Day-Meetup/
- Pop your cork on some “real” Champagne (I’ll explain later) and talk about it with millions of people (well at least 1 or 2) on Twitter or Facebook. To keep up on the Twitter machines use the hashtag #champagne. To go “old school” on Facebook you can use the Taste and Tweet page.
See how easy that is! Why wouldn’t you want to pop your cork?
Friday October 28, 2011 ALL DAY!
This is a Champagne day celebration. While many people make sparkling wine, only the French can make Champagne…to be precise only wine that comes out of Champagne, France can be called Champagne. While it might sound like French snobbery to some, they developed the process, so I think they deserve to lay claim to the name. Check out the history of Champagne and how they make it from our super cool all knowing friends at Wikipedia!
What Are You Celebrating?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, every day is worth celebrating. What do you have to celebrate? Let’s try something cool, I would love to hear what deserves some sparkle in your life. Did you get a new job? Are your children succeeding in school? Did your teenage son actually smile? Let’s celebrate together. Leave a comment so we can all be inspired.
See you on October 28 for a massive cork pop! For inspiration, check out this video!
19 Jul 2010
Store shelves seem to be lined with large selections of wine at and around $10. The challenge at that price point is getting a wine that provides more interest than grape flavored alcohol, thin fruit taste, poor aroma, or big woody oak to hide inferior quality juice. With beer, it’s pretty safe to assume that most light beers have certain flavors. The majority of main line beer has distinct tastes that register in our memory. With so many wine labels on the shelves, selecting one can be pretty hit and miss.
I believe the $10 price point is pretty status quo for the daily drinking wino on a budget and the occasional wine sipper. Therefore it is important to have a list of trustworthy labels that can be counted on to deliver.
The Under $10 Wine Team
In early 2010 I began the mission of fielding a team of wine players that could score at parties, hit it out of the park for value, and be trusted to step to the plate in most any situation. The rules were that each wine had to be purchased for $10 or less (sales, club discounts, bulk discounts were considered). Wines showed up to spring training and specially scheduled tryouts to show their stuff for the coaches. Each was vying for a coveted spot on the 12 man roster of 9 starters and 3 reserves. While legal issues (state distribution) kept us from trying out every player referred to us, we made every effort to select players who are widely available. After reviewing the scouting reports and film, I am pleased to reveal the 2010 “Under $10 Wine Team.” I’ve included the coach’s summary, roster position, and stats for each player. Links to the full scouting report are included for your reference. Many of these players’ tryouts were filmed. Enjoy the footage and make a note of the jersey (label) so you can get an autograph next time you are in the store.
|2008 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling (WA)
|2008 J.Lohr Syrah (CA)
|2008 Caterina Chardonnay ($10-$12)
|2008 Dancing Bull Zinfandel (CA)
|2008 Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc (Chile) $10-13
|2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon (WA)
|NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut (Spain)
|2007 Velvet Devil Merlot (WA)
|2006 Kiona Lemberger (WA)
|The Bench Players and Reserves2008 Gozzo Malbec (Argentina)
2007 Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir (CA) **$11
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah (CA)
15 Jul 2010
Nestled in the foothills of Mount Spokane is a family of gnomes that is hard at work making bubbles. These bubbles are enjoyed across the state and beyond to celebrate life’s precious moments. If you look closely you can catch a glimpse of the curious creatures as they work their magic to turn an ordinary bottle of wine into something sparkling and full of life.
Mountain Dome was born in 1984 and was named after the Geodesic dome that was built shortly after the Manz family moved to the area in 1980. Situated on 85 acres in Northeast Spokane, Mountain Dome was started by Michael and Pat Manz. The 9500 square foot production facility and 4,000 square foot dome were built by the family. Dr. Michael Manz was a child psychologist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital until his passing in 2006. Manz built a legacy that lives through Mountain Dome and through the Children’s Hospital’s BEST program. Erik Manz, along with his uncle John Mueller carry on Michael’s legacy of celebrating life with every glass. “I love being a part of people’s celebrations,” says Erik, “every day you’re alive is worth celebrating.” Still a true family operation, each family member is represented on the label of gnomes.
Retail sales began at Mountain Dome in 1992 with their 1988 vintage. For 18 years, Mountain Dome has been the only ‘bubble maker’ in Spokane. They also sparkle wine for other wineries like Townshend, Lone Canary, and Arbor Crest. Mountain Dome makes sparkling wine in the méthode champenoise style. With this method the bubbles for more complex wines are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle. As the name suggests, this is used for the production of Champagne and other quality sparkling wines, but is slightly more expensive (and well worth it). The process is very involved and Erik is hands on from riddling (turning of the bottles) to a special freezing machine that assists with removing the lees before disgorging.
The current line-up at Mountain Dome includes their non-vintage “gnome” label, non-vintage dry sparkling rose, vintage sparkling and their elegant Cuvee Forte. Each wine contains the traditional champagne grapes using approximately 66% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay all from Washington vineyards. With case production of about 3000 each year Mountain Dome is the state’s second largest bubble maker (behind Chateau St. Michelle). Erik is excited to be releasing a Blanc de Blanc (sparkling wine using 100% Chardonnay) in the Fall. The winery is open Saturday and Sunday from 11-4pm. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful view from the outdoor patio. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of those magical bubble making gnomes in action.
Mountain Dome has two external tasting rooms. The first is located at 906 W. 2nd in Downtown Spokane and the other is located in Seattle’s Pike’s Place area 1924 Post Alley.
- The Stuff: 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels, skin contact for 10 hours, 1.2% residual sugar, 12%ABV
- The Swirl: Very pale salmon color with hints of orange. Bubbles are medium size and quickly move to the top of the glass
- The Sniff: Subtle yeast and strawberry aroma with a hint of smoked bacon. Lively aromas, if you’re not too careful, the bubbles may tickle your nose
- The Sip: A wonderful delight in the mouth with a soft berry flavor that is graced by a firm body that indicates that this wine would pair well with all kinds of food. There is a great added layer of fruit that comes from the short time with the skins.
- The Score: At $25, this may not be an everyday bubbly for me, but I love the balance of fruit, a touch of sweetness for an off dry flavor and a fantastic acidity that cleanses the palate. 3+/5
08 Mar 2010
Welcome to the Lifestyle of the not so rich and way not so famous. Tonight we celebrate the 2009 Academy Awards and the celebration of cinema. As the thespians drink their $3500 per bottle Krug Clos Ambonnay Brut Champagne, DrinkNectar sips through three bottles that are in a more modest price range.
Best Picture the year I was born: The Godfather
Tonight’s nominees are from Spain, Austria, and California. My typical Sparkling wine consumption is reserved for special occasions, and New Years. I love it, but I’m usually consuming big bold Cabernet’s or Zinfandels. One of tonight’s nominees was submitted by Kevin from @atlantawineguy as a part of my Under $10 Wine Challenge. Kevin recommended the Spanish Sigura Viudas Estate Cava.
Best Picture Winners I Haven’t Seen (40 years)
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2007 – No Country for Old Men
1998 – Shakespeare In Love
1987 – The Last Emperor
1978 – The Deer Hunter
1977 – Annie Hall
1971 – The French Connection
As I reviewed these three Sparkling wines, it became apparent that each wine was a star in its own right. The Spanish Cava wins for ‘best value,’ Austria’s Gruner Veltliner wins ‘best foreign wine,’ and California Roederer Estate Brute takes ‘best bubbles.’
My Favorite Move (Which happens to be a best picture winner 1994) Forrest Gump
NV Segura Viudas ARIA Estate Brut – Spain
- The Stuff: 60% Macabeo, 20% Parellada, 20% Xarelo-lo; 3 years on yeast
- The Swirl: golden yellow (Chardonnay color), moderate bubbles
- The Sniff: Tight nose with apple toast and yeast being predominant.
- The Sip: Strong carbonation with hints of apple and smoky bread
- The Score: At $8, this is not a bad tasting bubbly, but lacks a lot of flavor and has too much carbonation and yeast. I score it a 3 (out of 5). So far this bubbly makes the Under $10 Team (mostly for lack of tryouts)
Other reviews: Cellar Tracker 86 points (12 reviews)
NV Roederer Estate – California
- The Stuff: 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir; 2 years on yeast; 80,000 cases
- The Swirl: Color is more pale yellow, great bubbles
- The Sniff: Bright pear with hints of honey and nuttiness
- The Sip: Very nice flavor profile with good apple, honey and cinnamon
- The Score: At $23, I score this a 4 (out of 5)
Other reviews: 91 pts Wine Spectator, 92 pts Wine Advocate, Cellar Tracker 89 points (214 reviews)
NV Szigeti Gruner Veltliner – Austria
- The Stuff: 100% Gruner Veltiner
- The Swirl: Golden yellow tone
- The Sniff: Bright acidity with citrus and tropical fruit tucked into the yeasty toast
- The Sip: Good sweetness with some tartness on the back end. A refreshing bubbly with some good citrus flavor
- The Score: Overall, I was pretty impressed with the quality of this $18 sparkler. I score it a 3+ (out of 5) for flavor and value.
Sparkling Wine Mixers
For the sake of time, some of the video was edited. The observant viewers will notice that my final drink goes from pale yellow to pink. What was responsible for this transformation? I edited out the segment that talks of how to use Sparkling Wine as a mixer. The yeastiness of some inexpensive sparkling wine can leave you a little dry in the mouth. On video I talked through a few solutions using cranberry juice, cassis liqueur, or vodka. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised at how you can transform an average bottle of bubbly.
In celebration of the 2009 Academy Awards, what is your favorite movie? Which Oscar winning film (from all time) is your favorite?