Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

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Bastille Day Celebrations in DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Champagne, DC events, Drink Well, Events, Holidays

Looking to celebrate Bastille Day in style?  It’s one of my favorite excuses (like I need one!) to indulge in some of my favorite French delicacies. Tomorrow is the 227th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, so don your best red, white & bleu and raise a glass of champagne!

I’ll be celebrating at Michel Richard’s Central, which is featuring a special 3 course menu of french bistro faves for just $55. They will also be featuring specialty cocktail, wine and beer as well as live entertainment from the Blue Room Jazz Band!

Central

Central

If you prefer to celebrate with a special glass of vin Eno Wine Bar is offering a Bastille Day flight and 30% off all bottles of French wines.

For live French music, check out Café du Parc or Sofitel (register here!)

And for an all day celebration, complete with mimes, check out Le Diplomat, which will also be offering specialty cocktails and pastries throughout the day.

To celebrate at home, check out Weygandt Wines‘, superb collection of French wines.  They’re offering 20% off French bottles!

How will you be celebrating Bastille Day? 

cheers

 

 

 

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#LanguedocDay

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Entertaining, Event Planning, Holidays, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wine Shops, Wine Tasting

The storm clouds in DC have finally given us a break and many people are planning outdoor entertaining for Memorial Day Weekend. What you may not know is that today is also #LanguedocDay.

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Wine “days” seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but what I love about this particular one is that it breaks people out of wine ruts and raises awareness about an unsung region in the Southwest of France that offers incredible quality at affordable prices.

 

When Wines of Languedoc approached me about reviewing some of their wines, I was excited- mainly because I happen to love them, but also because they were focused on quality, with only AOP (Appelation d’origine contrôlée) designated wines. Though the region is often known for its bulk wine production, only 10% of wine from the region receives AOP designation, meaning stricter sourcing and production guidelines, but also higher quality wines.

It also gave me an opportunity to invite some friends over to chime in with their own opinions! We took advantage of a gorgeous DC day and threw a garden party.

Ladies with Rose Edit
Wines from the Languedoc lend themselves exceptionally well to entertaining. They’re accessible wines in both flavor profile and price- 2 things that make them prime candidates for any party wine!
The bar set up for easy access for guests to serve themselves. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water keep guests hydrated!

The bar was set up for guests to easily serve themselves and sample all of the wines. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water kept guests hydrated!

On the menu:

Table Spread Edit copy

  • Homemade pimento cheese with ritz crackers- a must for any southern garden party!
  • Crudité platter with hummus
  • Orzo pasta salad
  • Fruit platter
  • Assorted olives, nuts, charcuterie and artisanal cheeses

Don’t forget:

  • To hydrate: I like to serve cucumber lemon water and sparkling water.
  • The bugs:  These pretty citronella candles give off a gorgeous glow while keeping the bugs at bay.
These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

The wines:

All of these, with the exception of the Crémant, are available at Weygandt Wines.  They’ve been kind enough to offer readers 15% off if you mention this post! Stop by to stock up for any weekend entertaining you might be planning.
Cheers!

Cheers!

Montfin Corbieres $13.99

This wine offers lovely red fruit with some earthy undertones. I noticed plum, red pepper and leather notes with medium tannin and acidity.

 

Montfin Rosé $13.99

This easy going rosé was a crowd favorite on such a gorgeous day!  Dry, with notes of white peach and raspberrry.

Arbalète Coquelicots $17.99

This wine showed best after it cooled off a bit. Red fruit, a hint of baking spice and lovely earthy qualities.

Picpoul de Pinet $11.99

Crisp and light with notes of apple, pear and citrus.  This is a warm weather no brainer!

Saint-Hilaire Crémant de Limoux $15

This crémant was both festive and accessible at a fraction of the cost of champagne!  Crisp with notes of pear and soft floral notes.

Have you tried Languedoc wines?  If not, this weekend is a great opportunity to do so.  To learn even more check out L’Aventure Languedoc, a celebration of Languedoc AOP wines throughout June, coming to Seattle and Washington DC. Click here for more information!

cheers

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On the Road: Early Mountain and Barboursville Vineyards

Posted in: Behind the Scenes, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Drink Well, On the Road, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues, Virginia Wine, Weekend Getaways, Wine Tasting, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards

Planning a wine tasting trip Charlottesville, Virginia can be a daunting task- there are a number of outstanding wineries and picking just a few is no easy feat!

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On my most recent trip with a group of friends, I took my cue from the most recent #VAwinechat, hosted by Frank Morgan of Drinkwhatulike.com at Early Mountain Vineyards.  After tasting a selection of their wines I decided I needed to visit in person. Although the winery is a bit of a drive from many of the other Monticello AVA wineries, but the bucolic setting and behind the scenes tour sealed the deal! Other than their own outstanding wines, Early Mountain has one of the loveliest tasting rooms in all of Virginia and serves an Ambassador for other Virginia Wineries with a program called “Best of Virginia.”

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The General Manager was kind enough to give my group an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the production facility, where we enjoyed tasting through Thibaut Janison’s bubbly, as well as Early Mountain’s own outstanding rosé. With notes of strawberry, watermelon, white peach and white pepper, the easy drinking rosé cut right through the muggy weather as we made our way through the tank and barrel room.

IMG_2173 While Early Mountain is not situated in the main Monticello wine cluster, it’s well worth a visit just to take in the outstanding facility, views and enjoy some of the best wines from all over the state, which they have thoughtfully organized into flights. It’s a great way to experience wines that aren’t so readily available, such as Ankida Ridge’s Pinot Noir. I walked away with several bottles of the Early Mountain rosé, only to regret not purchasing a full case once back in DC.

After our tour at Early Mountain we made our way to the Library room at nearby Barboursville. If you’re looking for quiet amidst the chaos, this is your best bet! Down a hallway and through the Octogan Barrel room, one enters a key code to the library, an appointment only retreat for winelovers that offers patrons exclusive customer service along wine tastings and glasses of wine from the reserve list. There is also a tempting menu of cheese and charcuterie, which are perfect pairings for the fully customized wine tasting. Guests are given wide range to select either a tasting of 6 wines for $20, tasting pours or full glasses of some of the winery’s more exclusive offerings.

wine flights

I sampled through an outstanding vertical of their acclaimed “Octagon”, mixing and matching the traditional tasting with an additional pour of 2008.

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While checking out the terrace overlooking the grapevines, we met grape grower, Fernando Franco, who has been at Barboursville for 16 years.  He spoke of the wine like a proud parent speaks of children, graciously offering tastes of the Nebbiolo ’07 as we chatted.

After lingering and sampling for a few hours, we made our way back to town to enjoy the always reliable  gastropub, “The Local”. On your way out of town, don’t forget to stop for a sack of Bodo’s Bagels and Raising Cane’s fried chicken!

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A Year in Champagne

Posted in: Behind the Scenes, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Champagne, DC events, Wine Films, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of A YEAR IN CHAMPAGNE last weekend and enjoyed the film immensely! Both film and wine buffs will appreciate the behind the scenes peek at the storied wine region.

Viewers are granted both a bird’s eye view of the vines, as well as a look inside the 600 mile labyrinth of Champagne caves undulating underground the tiny but mighty wine region.

a-year-in-champagne

The film follows 6 Champagne Houses, each illustrating a different aspect of the business and history of Champagne.  I was particularly smitten with the smaller, grower Champagne houses. The Diebolt-Vallois clan stole my heart with their wit, whimsy, dedication and hard work, while the 80 year old patriarch of Saint-Chamant showed each bottle being hand-turned.

Bollinger and Gosset, who have helped shaped much of the branding and identity of Champagne, also make appearances, lending balance and juxtaposition to the grower lifestyle.

The film is full of passion, charm, history, and is sure to leave you thirsty for your favorite bubbly!

There are two screenings for A Year in Champagne in the DC area starting tomorrow, each accompanied by Champagne tastings.

3/4/15, 7:00 PM, Fairfax, VA  Angelika Film Center & Cafe Buy tickets here

3/4/15, 7:00 PM, Washington, DC  Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market Buy tickets here

 

A Year in Champagne will be available for download on iTunes starting March 6.

Watch the trailer for the film here.

cheers
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Drink this, not that: New Years Edition

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Drink Well, Helpful Hints, Holidays, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues

I think we can all agree most bubbly is essentially just “varying levels of delicious,” as my wino friend, Trevor, put it.

Tis the season...for drinking Champagne in front of the fire!

Tis the season…for drinking Champagne in front of the fire!

However, there are always choices when it comes to spending your hard earned cash.  All too often I see people drinking big, corporate mass-produced wines that are the same price as better, lesser known bottles.

Check out my suggestions below if you want to branch out of your bubbly rut!

If you want to spend…

$10-$12

Steer clear of your grocery store’s Korbel display.  It’s tired and mass produced.  I saw three TV ads for the brand last night alone! (That’s what you’re paying for, by the way!) Check out a local wine shop for a small production cava or prosecco.  I like Dibon Cava for a nice change of pace in the budget bubbly range.

$20-$30

Jansz is an Australian sparkling wine from Tasmania-it’s an outstanding value from a tiny but mighty sparkling wine region!

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs is another favorite from California.  Although this is a large producer and widely available they don’t skimp on quality!

Bohigas Semi-Sec Cava is a great bet for those who like their bubbly with just a touch of sweetness.

I’d be remiss not to include a Virginia option, and Thibaut-Janisson is it!  Try their FIZZ for $20 or the Blanc de Blanc for $30.  The latter was served at a White House State Dinner!

$40-$50

This is the sweet spot for most entry level Champagnes, and while the ubiquitous orange label of Veuve Cliquot seems to be EVERYWHERE, that doesn’t mean it’s the best for the money.

I adore André Clouet Brut Rosé, Pol Roger, Laurent Perrier, and a recent favorite, Aubry.  See past the orange label and advertising! Remember, you want a winemaker who puts their money where YOUR mouth is, not into pricey advertising campaigns.

$175-$200

Dom Perignon has the big name, but ask any wino their preference and you’ll get a resounding preference for Krug. If you’re spending big, it’s the only way to go!

Finally, remember to check your local wine store.  They are sure to have great options from smaller Champagne houses that offer outstanding value (that’s how I found my latest love, Aubry!).

What’s your favorite Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

cheers

 

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