Posts filed under Wine Discoveries

Ben Franklin Beer Myth Busted

By all accounts, Benjamin Franklin was a very social guy.

He enjoyed spending time with friends. He preached temperance but couldn't seem to lay off the Claret. It's even rumored that he had quite a good time while serving as the first U.S. ambassador to France.

Like so many party-animals, the myth has outgrown the man. Here's one piece of Franklin lore that is seemingly everywhere:

It's on signs...

Source: Flickr,  Jim G

Source: Flickr, Jim G

Pint glasses...

Source: Flickr,  Reclamation Revolution

Source: Flickr, Reclamation Revolution

And even t-shirts...

Source: Flickr,  Rhys A .

Source: Flickr, Rhys A.

The truth is Franklin never said this. Some enterprising sign/pint glass/t-shirt salesperson slapped the quote on a few tchotchkes and pulled the wool over the eyes of beer drinkers everywhere.

So, what did Franklin really say?

Here's the original quote, taken from a 1779 letter to his friend Andre Morellet:

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!

Yep. Franklin was really talking about wine.

On the next rainy day, open a nice bottle of wine and raise a glass to Ben Franklin: inventor, statesman, and wine lover.

Posted on December 18, 2014 and filed under Wine Discoveries.

How the Drought Might Bring us More Good Wine

The severe drought that San Diego and much of California is experiencing might have a happy side effect: more good wine.

How we’ll get there takes a bit of a detour through our local farmlands. Here are some fun facts from the San Diego County Farm Bureau:

  • Farming is a $5.1 billion industry
  • It’s the 12th largest county for agriculture in the US
  • San Diego County has more farms than any other county in the US
  • The county is the #1 producer of nursery crops
  • The county is the #1 producer of avocados

That last number is feeling the heat so to speak from a lack of water. 

Avocados are a very water-intensive crop. It takes 74 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados. Faced with water shortages, many farmers have fallowed or replaced their avocado groves. The 2013 San Diego County crop report shows a 21 percent decline in avocado acreage in just five years. 

So, how does all this lead to wine?

Some farmers are planting grape vines in place of avocados. A few, like Chris Broomell, are dry farming their grapes, which means they aren’t using any irrigation at all.

We read this article in UT San Diego about how Broomell and his wife, Alysha Stehly, were helping to adapt their family farms to the drought by growing grapes. Then, we read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how they were winemakers to watch in 2014. 

We had to pay their Vesper Vineyards winery a visit.

Their urban tasting room is located in Escondido, just north of San Diego. We arrived shortly after they opened on a Sunday morning and were lucky enough to have Alysha Stehly as our host. 

It quickly became apparent that Alysha and her husband are mad scientists at Vesper Vineyards. They sell wine in refillable growlers. They use acacia casks to ferment some of their wine. They make California wine with minimal manipulation.

It also turns out to be some pretty good wine. We are currently on a strict no wine purchases embargo due to some space limitations (that’s an entirely different story), but we still wound up buying a few bottles.

Posted on November 18, 2014 and filed under Tasting Experiences, Wine Discoveries.

Total Wine is Totally Awesome!

We often reference Total Wine in this blog, but until recently neither of us had ever been.

I had a chance to visit the Total Wine in Dallas, Texas while on a recent business trip. My first thought was this place is awesome! My second thought was I wish we had one in San Diego.

Total Wine is a wine, beer, and liquor super store. It’s very similar to BevMo and Specs. They are predominantly located in the South, but do have a few stores in California. We frequently refer to them when they carry wines we recommend on this blog because we know many of our friends have a Total Wine nearby.

The visit to Total Wine resulted in sharing a few bottles which made it perfect.

My brother-in-law Mark and his family live in Dallas. I was heading over to their place for dinner and drinks and wanted to bring a bottle of wine to share. As luck would have it, Total Wine was on the way to their home.

The funny part came when I was shopping and I got a call from Mark.

“Are you on your way over?”

“Yes, but I made a stop,” I said a little evasively, not wanting to reveal I was buying wine to bring to the house.

“I was thinking of stopping by Total Wine to pick up half a case and could use your help.”

Ooops, cover blown! 

We had a good laugh when I told him I was already there. Mark arrived a few minutes later and we wandered the aisles like kids in a candy store.

They have great selection, a huge inventory, and outstanding prices. In fact, Total Wine usually has lower prices than BevMo and Specs, as evidenced by a post on sparkling wine recommendations for your Oscar party.

The wine was sectioned off by varietal and country of origin. I could get lost in their French section alone. That's section as in area of the store, not section of one aisle. It was huge.

Their domestic Pinot Noir section took up both sides of one aisle with bottles from outstanding Pinot Noir regions such as the Willamette Valley, Russian River, and Carneros. They even had a few bottles from Santa Barbara County, including this bottle of Au Bon Climat that I picked up to bring to the house. 

Sally and I had recently shared this bottle with her Mom in Chicago, so it was nice to share it with other family members too.

Total Wine also had a comprehensive selection of beer and liquor. Mark, being related to Sally, is naturally a fan of whiskey. We had fun exploring this section too and Mark picked up a bottle of Aberfeldy Scotch to add to his liquor cabinet.

We could have spent even more time exploring if it wouldn’t have made us late for dinner. BevMo better watch out — as soon as Total Wine opens a San Diego location we’ll be there!

Posted on October 18, 2014 and filed under Wine Discoveries.

2011 Barrique Pinot Noir – a great shared bottle!

A common question we get is, “is there a wine you like best”? That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child…well, maybe not as extreme.  While picking a favorite varietal, or even region, is difficult to do, I can say with certainty that my favorite bottles are shared bottles. Every shared bottle has a story, and can lead to discovering a new favorite, like Herman Story and Benessere (P.F.G Zin!). 

Recently, our friends Jeff & Karin, shared with us a bottle of 2011 Barrique Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.  What a great new discovery (thank you!).  This pinot was delicate, yet full of flavor.  It has a bright cranberry color, and a nose of bright cherries and blackberries.  As typical with Pinot Noir from the area, these flavors continue to the palate but they are not over the top.  It finishes with a hint of plum and a little wood.  Very tasty all on its own ~ definitely a wine you can enjoy while you are cooking, and with the meal! 

Keep an eye out for this wine in local wine shops ~ they currently distribute to a number of states, including CA, CO, DC, GA, NJ, NY, and TX.  

Posted on August 15, 2014 and filed under Wine Discoveries.

2012 Cune Monopole – White Rioja

In our quest to discover new wines beyond California and the west coast, we have tried some really great, and for us, unusual wines.  One recent discovery was the 2012 Cune Monopole White Rioja Wine from Spain. 

Made of 100% Viura, this wine is very crisp and light in color with a fairly neutral palate. The nose is very aromatic, with notes of pear, melon and a hint of floral.  There were bright citrus flavors on the front, fading to lemon/lime, and little stone fruit on the finish.  Very refreshing, and an easy drinker.  It is nice all on its own, and paired very nicely with grilled chicken and zucchini along with a tomato salad.  A fun summer wine, and very reasonable retailing at about $12 – look for it at Specs, or other large wine retail stores near you! 

Posted on July 11, 2014 and filed under Under $20, Wine Discoveries.