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.
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.
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 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:
- 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
- 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!
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.
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!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
I sampled through an outstanding vertical of their acclaimed “Octagon”, mixing and matching the traditional tasting with an additional pour of 2008.
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!
Bon Vivant, Champagne, Drink Well, Entertaining, Event Planning, Events, Helpful Hints, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards
I recently chatted with Rob Mondavi IV, 4th Generation winemaker, from his beautiful waterfront home in Beaufort, South Carolina. He had some great tips for outdoor entertaining as we come into the summertime entertaining season.
Mondavi pulls inspiration from California wine country, Europe, South America and Southern Coastal traditions, but his tips work well no matter where you live!
Check out some of his outdoor entertaining tips below and click here to see the full interview!
- Green & Eco-friendly are trends that are easy to incorporate. Mondavi recommends recycled materials with longevity like Trex decking materials.
- Make sure your guests have a place to set their drinks- you can even incorporate a cocktail rail into decking! Alternatively, set out cocktail tables or garden stools.
- Plan intimate events, bigger isn’t always better.
- Serve Bubbly! “It can mark a moment at the party.”
- When it comes to food, focus on farm to table and sourcing local, fresh products. I love visiting Eastern Market and Union Market in DC to pick up local, fresh ingredients.
- Mondavi’s go to porch wine: Chardonnay! Aromatic whites and dry Rosés are also great options that are trending.
What are some of your favorite outdoor entertaining tips?
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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?
Although we’re coming up on Labor Day weekend, the weather will continue to be warm for the next month or so. Here in DC, we’re looking at a heat wave! Here’s what I’ll be drinking:
A summer favorite, this budget friendly wine from the South of France is light and intensely refreshing. It’s well-known as a great pairing for seafood and is enjoyable for casual patio sipping as well.
Bon Vivant DC’s Pick: 2011 Domaine De La Fruitière Petit M ($13)
The tangy acidity and minerality in this Muscadet will make you a convert to this oft-overlooked variety.
Although many drink rosé year round (yours truly, included!), it’s often best enjoyed during warmer months. The most popular region for this type of wine is Provence, although they are increasingly being produced in almost every wine region. They often have red fruit flavors and a bone dry finish.
Bon Vivant DC’s Pick: Montfaucon Domaine Les Gardettes Rosé ($12)
This has been one of my go to summer rosés to enjoy al fresco this summer. This rosé from the Loire Valley has a wonderful bouquet of peach blossom and raspberry.
I know this is a common recommendation on the Bon Vivant Blog, but if you’re anything like me, any excuse will do to enjoy a festive glass of bubbly! It’s refreshing, pairs well with a variety of foods, and is perfectly acceptable to drink before noon on your Monday off!
Bon Vivant DC’s Pick: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs ($40) & Biutiful Rosé Brut Cava ($13)
In the wake of the recent earthquake, show Napa some love with this superb bottle of bubbly. I’m partial to the Blanc de Noirs, but this established bubbly house produces outstanding bubblies from a variety of grapes.
For a more budget friendly option, look to Cava from Spain- equally delicious and usually lighter on the wallet! I like Biutiful’s brut rosé. Made from 100% Garnacha, this easy drinking bubbly has lovely red fruit notes and a bone dry finish.
For those who will be grilling out this weekend, Spanish reds are a great pairing with Barbeque and other grilled meats. They are slightly spicy, fruit forward, and balanced out with an old world, earthy quality.
Bon Vivant DC’s Pick: Ladrón de Guevara ($12-$30)
A spicy Tempranillo from Rioja fits the bill! Their cosecha will set you back a mere $12, while their Reserva can run about $30. The younger the wine, the lighter and more fruit forward it will be. I generally like to drink their middle ground- Crianza, which runs about $17.
This is another classic pairing for those who will be manning the grill this Labor Day weekend. California comes through again with this fruit forward and zesty red wine. (Just steer clear of the much maligned white Zinfandel!)
Bon Vivant DC’s Pick: 2012 F. Stephen Millier Angel’s Reserve Zinfandel ($20)
This classic producer from Lodi consistently puts out quality Zinfandel with jammy fruit and a hint of smokiness that will pair great with anything char-grilled.
What are your Labor Day Weekend Plans?