Advent Calendar Brilliance!

Wine and cheese!

Wine Advent Calendar from Lidl

This year we were lucky enough to snag one of these wine advent calendars from Lidl. They fly off the shelf just as soon as then become available. At around $60.00 for the box, we hoped for the best. So far, so good.

There are 24 mini wine bottles behind each snowflake!
Cheese Advent Calendar from Lidl

Also a Lidl best seller is the clever Ilchester cheese advent calendar and what better to go with wine? The cheese advent calendar (in the refrigerator section of course) costs around $14.00.

December 1st:

Tonight’s pairing was a mini bottle of Chardonnay (equal to one large glass or two small ones for sharing) and a lovely English sharp cheddar. I would really like to know more about this wine and the cheese because both were terrific and fabulous together! The wine was just as the mini label stated, buttery, pear, Meyer lemon and vanilla.

Cheers to twenty-three more days of wonderful surprises to come!

Happy Advent all!

Qupe White Wine Review

Enjoying a pleasant Saturday lunch at Vino Bistro

Qupe Chardonnay

Last Saturday my husband and I discovered a new place which is always fun. New to us, I mean. It’s called Vino Bistro which is located in Leesburg, VA. If you live in Northern Virginia you should check it out. It has extensive outdoor space complete with a fire pit and festive lighting. If you are far, far away from Virginia, I highly recommend finding a wine bar or vineyard near you for a short weekend escape. You deserve it!

Vino Bistro in Leesburg, VA https://www.vinobistroonline.com

It was extremely quiet for a Saturday, partly due to the residual effects of COVID19 which have left this fairly new shopping center with several empty retail spaces. We have also had some recent bomb threats in Northern Virginia targeted at shopping and strip malls in the area.

So what were we doing out? My post COVID attitude is that life is for living, and that means not living in fear. We had the whole place to ourselves and felt like celebrities! When my number is called, I hope I have a glass of wine in my hand!

The Bar at Vino Bistro

I was particularly impressed by this expansive wall of wine!

Wow! A wall of wine!

Our server recommend a few wines based on our taste and we selected Qupe (pronounced kyoo-pay) 2018 from Santa Barbara County at $45.00. I did some quick research and you can purchase this wine at various wine wholesale or retail outlets for between $18.00 and $28.00.

It has a pale, golden color, and is light, with medium body, and a clean finish. I tasted oak, lemon, almond, and crisp green apple. It paired well with the fabulous cheese plate we ordered.

Cheese plate from Vino Bistro: Sweet Hill, Camembert, La Caseria Carpenado, Point Reyes, Bleu Cheese, and Grafton, Clothbound
Cheers!

If you try Qupe please share your thoughts. Happy weekend all and I hope you live life fearlessly!

Phantom Chardonnay

Phantom Chardonnay from the makers of Bogle

Bogle Chardonnay is one of my all time favorite wines, so when the makers of Bogle introduced Phantom I just had to try it. If you are a Bogle fan I think you will enjoy it. It has all of the wonderful richness and flavors of Bogle, the butter, caramel, vanilla and ripe melon and it may be a slight cut above Bogle Chardonnay.

Phantom back label

The cost of Phantom is almost double that of Bogle at $12.00-$20.00 depending on where you shop. Although I did enjoy it, I am not sure I would regularly make the leap to Phantom when Bogle is just so amazing at under $8.00-12.00 on average. Try it, I think you’ll like it, but call me old fashioned, I’ll stick with the original!

Bogle Chardonnay

Robert Mondavi Private Selection 100% Chardonnay

I like to taste a wine before reading the back label, preferring not to be influenced. I’m considering total blind tastings – even having a friend pick the wine, cover the label, and pour going forward to see if I can determine whats what in a wine.

I was intrigued by this claim of 100% Chardonnay and the Robert Mondavi brand is a favorite of mine.

What I tasted was oak, vanilla, apple, lemon and honey back with a clean finish and slight sense of carbonation.

While some chards are fine for drinking on their own, this one is better paired with food to bring out the flavor. It’s a heavy, sturdy wine so it stands up well to aged cheeses or chicken or pasta dishes with rich white sauces.

Here’s what they say about it on the back label…

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried it!

Ten Buttery Chardonnays for Under $10

Great buttery Chardonnay is such a popular subject that I have been working diligently to bring you a new Top Ten list with a fresh challenge: ten buttery chardonnays for under $10!!!

Does price really dictate quality and taste? Heck no! You don’t have to break the bank to drink good wine. Although challenging, you can find quality chards for under $20, $15 and even under $10!

A quick note on price, if you shop for wine at the major supermarket chains, the prices are sometimes as much as $5 higher per bottle than at designated wine outlets like Total Wine, or Costco, but with a member card, sale price discounts, and the 6 bottle discount most supermarkets offer, you can pay much less, you just may just need to buy more wine! I also find great prices and good selection at World Market, Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

There are some amazing, highly drinkable chards of the buttery, creamy variety with some other flavors that make my palate sing like oak, caramel, pear, almond, vanilla, baked apple, pineapple and honeysuckle. If all of these sound heavenly to you, read on my friends.

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Sadly, butter has become a trend, and with any trend, you have posers trying to sell you something that their product is not! Shameful! So first I want to address what’s in a name and in a label? Just like a book cover, the wine label and well written back label copy tell us in a snapshot everything about the wine we are about to purchase, it is the second most important piece of the puzzle. Still, I cannot tell you how many lost souls I have witnessed, and often rescued, adrift in the wine aisle!

Labels matter and they only have precious seconds to impress! If you are currently aimlessly wandering the aisles of your favorite wine store, my goal is to help you find some great weekend wines minus the pain!

As always, I had to taste some frogs to compile this list. Nothing is more disappointing than bringing home a wine with high hopes of greatness, only to find that the taste does not even begin to measure up to the name and label narrative. One that I found not as buttery as promised was Butter Knife.

Here are a few that do measure up on the butter scale!

Ménage a Trios from California, is liquid gold indeed. I have to say the name is a tad off-putting, and in the past I had hesitated to purchase it because I am a respectable wine drinker! Still, the wine is really good, and if this gimmicky thing that the marketers have going on works for them, great. However, they may want to consider a sister wine under a classier label for an uptick in sales and broader wine audience. Label aside, I give this one three butter sticks!!! It is sooo buttery!

Ménage a Trois Chardonnay
Toasted Head Chardonnay
Cloud Break Chardonnay

I first discovered Cloud Break at Aldi, but have since seen it on the shelves of other stores like Total Wine.

Bend Chardonnay

I selected Bend simply based on the label. I wanted to be on this windy road on a gorgeous autumn day in a convertible with someone special! I imagined a picnic basket in the back seat filled with gourmet cheese, a French baguette, and of course chilled buttery chard! The best label award goes to…Bend!

Cupcake Butterkissed Chardonnay

The Cupcake brand is pure marketing genius! I especially love that they added Butterkissed for an extra burst of butter for all butter lovers!

This wine label crosses over into what I call life style wine that sells a story with the 3 A’s: “Anytime, Anyplace, Anyone”.

Proverb Chardonnay

With such a sophisticated label, you can bring Proverb Chardonnay to your next gathering and impress for less.

Dark Horse Buttery Chardonnay
14 Hands Chardonnay
Gnarly Head Chardonnay

Big, grand applause for all of these wines and their fabulous labels! However, I just realized most of my picks are from California, ugh! I shall try to invent a list from around the globe or at least find more from some other states like Washington, Oregon, or Virginia next time! Until then…sip, relax and enjoy!

Please share your thoughts and favorites too! As always thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

Clos du Bois Lightly Bubbled Chardonnay- butter with phizzazz!

If you have not tried it yet, get some Clos du Bois Lightly Bubbled Chardonnay today because the Clos wine folks have struck gold with this combination of what they already had right in their chard- a reliable, affordable, buttery winner – now with a splash of pizzazz! They added just a hint of bubbles and well, my darlings, you need this in your wine cabinet before everyone else becomes wise to it! This fizzy fun is a must have for entertaining, as an aperitif, or serve to guests at your next Sunday Bruch!

Clos du Bois Lightly Bubbled Chardonnay

Friday Night Vouvray! Hooray!

Try a little French classic this weekend, Vouvray from the Loire Valley. Crowd pleasing Vouvray is perfect for entertaining. Lovers of both dry, and sweet wine will enjoy this wine. It is a Chenin Blanc, which can vary in sweetness.

This particular bottle of Vignobles Lacheteau was not overly sweet, although some Vouvray can be. It was characteristically deep yellow in color, fruity, and fragrant. I found this one at Trader Joe’s for under $8.00.

I like to serve Vouvray very cold and with appetizers, especially mild french cheeses like honey goat and triple cream brie.

Thank you for reading and keep drinking great white wine!

Friday Night Chardonnay

Sometimes you have to be daring! Atrevida chardonnay 2014 from the Mendoza Region of Argentina at under$13.00 is subtle, and sophisticated with notes of pear, pineapple, and light oak. I detected an underlying fizz almost prosecco-like, which is not immediately obvious. This dry, mellow chard with low acidity was a pleasant diversion from my standard flavor profile of butter and heavy oak.

I might be guilty of being stuck in a rut when it comes to white wine. I like what I like, and my flavor profile is almost exclusively chardonnay which leans heavily on butter and oak. However, I do like other white wines: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Blanc de Blanc, Pinot Gris, Prosecco, and sparkling wine.

Sometimes we must leave our safety zone and explore! So tonight, be Atrevida, which means daring in spanish, and try something new!

Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

Friday Night Chardonnay

Crawford Chard of the week

Hello all! I’m asking you to take your taste buds on a trip to New Zealand with this Friday Night Chardonnay pick, Kim Crawford Chardonnay. This little lovely fits my favorite buttery flavor profile to a T, even though this wine is listed on the Kim Crawford website as unoaked. I know what I have said before, being a slight bit closed-minded on the unoaked subject, but it is my job to venture out and taste wine (oh such a hardship!) that I think you will enjoy.

I found this while on my search for butterscotch flavored wines, and it did not disappoint. I may have to venture out more often to the unoaked side. It is fruity but not overly citrus or acidic. I am adding a new criteria, “butter sticks”. Depending on how buttery I find the chardonnay, I am giving it one, two, or three butter sticks. This wine is worthy of two butter sticks.

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Kim Crawford Chardonnay is highly drinkable and well priced at $14.99. It pairs well with salmon, or shrimp, or a creamy cheese like brie. And if you do try it, please let me know how you liked it!

glass

Cheers my dears! Thanks for reading and keep drinking great wine!

 

 

Friday Night Chardonnay!

Sorry California, this week’s wine pick is a lovely, smooth, oaky, buttery Chardonnay from South Africa called Indaba for under $8.00.

 

That’s not just any oak you have been spending time in Indaba! This little beauty is aged in French Oak. No wonder I liked it! Hints of honeysuckle, and pineapple round out this refreshing wine which is perfect for sharing an early evening on the deck. Try it with seafood, or with some creamy cheeses like havarti or butterkase.

Thank you for reading and keep drinking great wine!