Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo, Agnolotti dal Plin and the Piedmont Region (Italia)

I got stuck in Italy. Well, virtually stuck in Italy. And I am not complaining. Italy is one of my favorite European countries. You see, I started a virtual wine tour, so I could enjoy both wine and food from different wine regions all over the world. I merrily ate and drank my way through England, France and Spain.

For some reason, I landed in Italy, had a few eats and drinks and went on permanent Siesta. I am embarrassed, especially since I was so excited for this part of my journey.

Well, I am starting my virtual Italy tour over and this time, and I am starting in the Piedmont region. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Piedmont region is a culinary capital in Italy, as well as the home to Nebbiolo, Barolo & Barbaresco wines. Sometimes called the “Burgundy of Italy“, the Piedmont region is known for good red wines and exquisite food, including the white truffle (mangia mangia!).

Barolo is a well known and prestigious red. Unfortunately, it was also a bit out of my price range. So, I found a nice Nebbiolo from the Langhe region, made by the Ca d’Maria winery.

My Nebbiolo was a very lovely red, with a brown-ish tint. I guess you could call it more garnet than red. It had a peppery nose, with hints of cherry and latex (Brettanomyces, I believe). When I opened the bottle, the first thing I did was smell the cork (it’s an odd habit, I know) and was instantly reminded of tart red cherries and springtime.

The wine itself was very mild. It had hints of black pepper, tart cherries and leather. There was no burn to my mouth (as I have found with other red wines) and it went down smooth and easy.

Making the agnolottiI paired my wine with agnolotti dal plin, a stuffed pasta from Piedmont. Similar to ravioli, looking a bit more like a pot sticker,  with “plin” meaning pinch. I pulled out my trusty Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen cookbook and read up on how to make pasta dough. I decided to go away from the traditional meat fillings and do a roasted vegetable filling instead. I wanted to keep the meal light, but still tasty.

The pasta making turned out to be a family affair. My daughter helped me cut vegetables and make dough. My husband helped me with the rolling and cutting, and once I had placed a little of the vegetable.

I opted for a brown butter and sage sauce, which made the meal light and delicious. The roasted vegetable filling also paired nicely with my wine.

Finished pasta

I was pleasantly surprised to find the pasta making was fairly simple. As a first time pasta maker, it did take me a bit longer, but the end result was delicious.

I am proud to say, I have started my virtual food and wine tour with style. I am now off to the next wine region – Lombardy. Ciao for now.

 

Resonance Extra Brut

Marie Courtin Resonance Champagne

Marie Courtin’s Résonance Champagne is luxurious. The lemony yellow wine offers flavors of citrus and green apple, and is both refreshing and smooth. The very low dosage allows this wine to pair nicely with just about any meal, as well as hold its own as a stand alone drink.

If you are looking for a nice Champagne for New Year’s or for any nice occasion, you cannot go wrong with a bottle of Résonance.

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Wine Jar

Purchase High Quality Wine Because YOU are Worth It

At some point along the way, I decided that since it was just me drinking wine at home, buying a nice, quality bottle of wine just wasn’t worth the cost. I gave up on on learning about wine, on blogging about trying wine, and just started buying low cost wine to have with dinner.

The result of this choice led to a lot of wine being dumped down the drain, along with stomachaches, headaches and a bad taste in my mouth. I am not sure why exactly, but cheap is cheap. Whether it is the quality of grape, additives used or the wine making process itself, the low cost wines do not pay off. Continue reading

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Le Grande Fete -Our Very Own Le Diner En Blanc

The day started out sunny and bright, another perfect July morning. After a cup of coffee and a few moments vegging on the couch, it was time to start setting-up for our Le Dîner en Blanc.

The first step was to figure out timing for the menu. When to stop decorating and when to start cooking. Some items we were able to make ahead, but others we had to prepare on demand during the dinner. Continue reading

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A Dinner Party Inspired by the Le Diner en Blanc

Every year about this time, right as school is letting out, I yearn for a change or some kind of exotic vacation. And while the cold, hard truth means there is no vacation waiting for me in mid-summer, it doesn’t keep me from scheming and dreaming.

One way to make dream vacations a little closer to a reality is through themed dinner parties, and this year, my family is pulling out all the stops. In July, we are throwing our own Le Dîner en Blanc, an all white party inspired by the original Le Dîner en Blanc club. While our party is not exclusive and is not a flash mob, we are drawing menu and decor inspiration from this group.

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Refocus and Recharge, Ready, Set, Go!

When I first started this blog, I wanted to be like so many of the other wine bloggers out there. I wanted to write articles about great wines I had tasted, offering my unique insights. I wanted to be someone people looked to for wine recommendations, the person wineries sent their wines to for reviews. I wanted to be one of the greats.

But the truth is, I am not that person. I enjoy wine, but sitting and writing up tasting notes is not my style. And I really don’t have the knowledge of a great wine critic, I am a novice and I have many, many years of learning ahead of me.

Over the past 3 years of blogging, I realized one very important thing: I have more fun learning about wine while at a dinner party or with friends and family. I enjoy the social aspect of wine. These events and gatherings (big or small) also produce some of my best writing.

So where do I go from here? I am not 100% sure, but I think I have a pretty good idea how to refocus my writing and make my blog enjoyable for myself and for others.

Mountain Dome Brut and a side of Donuts

It is Saturday morning and I am hungry. It has been a long week, and I want to indulge on something more than my normal coffee breakfast. I want brunch.

The thing is, I love the idea of brunch, but I cannot eat most “brunch” foods (I am lactose intolerant). Eating any kind of breakfast at a restaurant consists of poached eggs and a mimosa or coffee = boring.  And between you and me, I think a mimosa is highly overrated. If you had any decent sparkling wine, you would not ruin it by adding orange juice.

But enough of that. I am in charge [of my stomach] and I am making the executive decision that breakfast will consist of donuts and sparkling wine.

Mountain Dome and Donuts

I know of a place that makes both vegan and regular donuts, making it a win-win meal for everyone in my family.

As for the sparkling wine, I am going with Mountain Dome Brut. Mountain Dome holds a special place in my heart. It is a family winery from my hometown of Spokane and the children attended the same high school as me. While I was not in the same class as either child (one was in the grade below me), I have a sense of hometown pride every time I see or drink their wine.

It was also one of the first sparkling wines I drank. My parents bought me a bottle to celebrate my 21st birthday, and it was a good wine to cut my teeth on.

Ah, the memories….

I choose a donut, a yummy maple bar looking one, and sip my wine. The wine has almost an apple taste, sweet, but not sugary, and crisp. Hmm, different, but not bad. I take a moment to smell my wine, light and airy, not too much of a nose to it.  Not bad, not bad at all. I take a big bite of my donut and a generous drink of my wine. Bliss.

Honestly, the Mountain Dome Brut is the perfect pairing with my donut breakfast. So good, in fact, I have to tweet about it (between bites):

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Cheers @sethgn & @IJNichols Having the #breakfast of champions: donuts & @mtdome brut. #cheers all! https://t.co/dDvycVr5sK

— Chloe Nichols (@ChlNichols) March 7, 2015

My breakfast choice is excellent, and is taking the edge off of my week. What better way to surge into the day than with a sugar rush (and some pretty darn good wine). Now, I am ready for the weekend.

Vina Olvido Rosado, a Refreshing Summer Drink

It has been a warm couple of days and it makes me think of the Summer In the City song by Lovin’ Spoonful:

One way to escape the heat is a cold glass of wine, and at this moment, I decided a Rosé would be the best choice.

vinaolvidoI have found that Rose can sometimes confuse or disappoint. They can have a super fruity nose, but a savory palette or the opposite, both of which make my brain hurt. I am more of a say it how it is kinda girl, which is why I very much appreciated my glass of Viña Olvido Rosado.

This crisp wine does not disappoint. It is orange-red in color, with a green, almost leafy and citrus nose. And it had the palette to match: lemony, light and airy, a bit of acid an hints of raspberry.

And for a hot day, it was just what I needed. It was refreshing and tart, like an adult glass of lemonade.  The perfect porch-wine, for enjoying the hot afternoon and watching the sun set.

 

Social Media as a Sales Funnel? An interesting perspective on how to use social media to build your brand.

Social media is confusing.  I should know, I work in the field.  There are so many different options when it comes to the different social media tools out there, it is nearly impossible for a business to know where to focus time and efforts.

I recently read an article written by social media expert, Frank J. Kenny in which he equates social media to a sales funnel. In his article, he explains that social media is a good tool to get prospects deeper into the funnel:

Social media is awesome at top and middle funnel work. One post could be seen by hundreds of your customers and prospects. They may share it with their friends, adding more people into the top of your funnel. They don’t know much about your product or service but at least they know your organization exists.

Photo Credit: Ben Salter

Photo Credit: Ben Salter

So that makes sense, right?  You can use social media as a tool to build brand awareness.

Get people out there to know that you exist.  After all, the world is a big place, both on and off-line, so if you don’t tell people you are out there, how are they going to know?

But, you do have to be careful. You can’t get into a cycle of shameless self-promotion. That doesn’t do anyone any good. And it only takes a few times of blatant, hard-core sales for prospective customers to turn away from you and jump onto the next bandwagon.

So now what?

To me, the key is to find those who will be your brand evangelists. The ones who will talk about you to their network. Interact with that person – through Twitter, Facebook or where ever that person(s) may be. Provide more than just information about your brand or company, also provide tidbits of information, factoids, helpful articles, etc. Things that show you are more than just a product, but an important part of your prospect’s life.

Frank J. Kenny summed it up nicely in his article:

To build relationships with your target market, you provide value upfront and share your organization’s story, what it is and what it stands for. If there is a connection, they move down the funnel.

This is all great and good, but how does this relate to wine?

Quite a bit, actually.  When I first started this blog, I jumped right in with criticism on how wineries were not engaging with their audience, that they were not using Twitter appropriately, only to realize that I was still a Twitter-novice, and it is a whole lot harder than it looks.

But let’s look past Twitter or any social media tool for the moment and look at the target audience for any given winery. The obvious, of course, is wine drinkers.  But think about how broad that audience truly is: basically, you are looking at any one person who is of drinking age, that likes wine. Maybe you can segment by income, maybe you can’t. And what social media channel does this broad audience use. Well that truly depends, doesn’t it? I think Facebook and Twitter are pretty safe bets, but what about Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Beyond that mess, you have the other layer of audience: the media, the influencers to your core audience.

So what should a winery (or any business really) do?

In my humble, yet honest, opinion, I think a business should pick a few social media channels and test the results. But you have to go all-in. You can’t stick up a few ‘pins’ or tweet out just a few articles and expect success. Invest the time to keep a few of these channels updated and set goals and benchmarks. If you aren’t reaching these goals, then it is time to drop that channel and try another. But do be patient, everything is going to happen tomorrow.

The other key, is finding those brand evangelists. The ones who love when you interact with them on Twitter or Facebook, etc., the ones who turn around and tell all their friends about you. Keep them close. Remember, their loyalty will see you through the hard times too.

Wrapping this all up in a few words: breathe, select, embrace and wait.

Take a few deep breaths (maybe drink a glass of wine) and really learn about your audience. Select a few social media channels that may help you to reach your audience. Embrace these social media channels fully and be patient with the results. And don’t forget about those brand evangelists, they are kind of like groupies, and groupies are gold. After all, there seems to be groupies for everything, and I mean everything, so there will be groupies for you too.

 

A New Home and a Better Attitude, Thanks in Part to Good Wine

I whined quite a bit in my previous post about how hard it was to look for a new house.  Well, on the house front, after some patience and many more tours, we finally found a home we liked and wanted to call our own.

While looking at homes, I critiqued each one the way I did wine, and found the experience slightly more enjoyable.

I don’t want to jinx our potential new home, so I am not going to post pictures or talk about it. But once the financing is complete, I will probably find a way to talk about our new home in all my posts. Consider yourself warned.

I made sure to supplement our home search with a few good wines.  After all, what good does it do to come back from looking at some “yuck homes” only to pour a glass of bad wine.

A glass of good wine cures any bad day and helps change a bad attitude into a more optimistic one.  The more remarkable wines that cured my can’t-find-a-home-blues, include:

L Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. A straw yellow (with slight green tinge) wine, with a yeasty and almost dosage nose (similar to what I smell when drinking champagne.  The wine was light and savory, with a slight citrus after taste. It was refreshing and bright, much-needed after a blah day.

Maison Bleue Jaja 2012 Columbia Valley White Wine. Always a fan, I have enjoyed every Maison Bleue wine that I have tried, and this was no exception. Light yellow in color, this wine was also savory and citrus, very light and airy. The palette matched the nose: light, with a slight citrus aftertaste. You can never go wrong with a bottle of Maison Bleue.

Two great wines that turned my frown upside down, and made the search for a new home just that much easier. Once the purchase is complete and we are fully moved-in, I look forward to a relaxed summer of trying wines and starting a new chapter of our lives.