Fàilte! Welcome to the next installment of Exploring the Wine Glass. Mike and I are big proponents of you should drink what you like and you are the only one who can taste like you. We advocate the fact that everyone experiences the wine differently, so in these posts we do not discuss our tasting notes.  Instead we include basic information about each of the wineries, and/or a bit about what was happening in our lives while we were enjoying them.

Want to know what we think of the wines? Do you want a little insight into our palates? Then head over to Delectable and check us out. We tell it as we taste it over there. Click here to see the chart we use to describe the color. A video of them as they are poured is found at the end of the post. Visit our YouTube Channel to see other wine videos. As always, since as oenophiles we love to celebrate #WineWednesday, our week runs from one Wednesday to the next.

Four Counties One Cab Franc

Exploring the Wine Glass, Dracaena WinesLang and Reed have been producing a Cabernet Franc since 1993. It not a stretch to say that they were one of the pioneers of Cabernet Franc in Northern California. John and Tracey Skupny started their winery with the vision of producing Cabernet Franc. Their journey began around 1976 while in Kansas City.  Here they were working in the restaurant industry and were trained in fine wine and food. After attaining their sommelier certifications, their vision changed from restaurants to vineyards. They finally reached Napa Valley in 1984. 

Over the years in California, John worked at Caymus Vineyards, Clos Du Val Wine Company and the Niebaum-Coppola Estate (Inglenook) while . Tracey focused on raising a family and philanthropic endeavors at St. Helena Public Schools Foundation and Auction Napa Valley. She then began her Napa Valley wine career In 1994, when she began working at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery.  All along they were captivated by the Cabernet Francs from Loire Valley and Bordeaux and decided to “Produce a Cabernet Franc that was ‘true to type’, in aroma, and pure in flavor with, structure and balance.”

Exploring the Wine Glass, Dracaena WinesI decided to pair this Cabernet Franc with one of my favorite recipes.  I made pasta carbonara. It is so simple and so yummy! This Cabernet Franc is on the lighter side, with not a lot of tannic structure, so it did not overpower the pasta. In fact the smokiness of the bacon in the dish brought out the earthiness of the wine.  Sourced from four of the five counties that comprise the North Coast AVA, allows Lang and Reed to produce a wine that’s “blend is greater than any of the parts.” 

Comfort Food with a Side of Wine

I participate in a monthly twitter chat known as Wine Pairing Weekend. Once a month we get together on twitter and discuss a food and wine pairing that was created with a theme in mind. February’s theme was comfort food.  

As I sat on my couch all curled up and covered in my blanket, I thought about the theme. What comforts me? I’m really not a very big dinner person, so comfy to me is just something warm. Casseroles came to mind first, so I went with it.  You can read more about the meal itself here. (after February 11, 2017) But in this post, I am going to focus more on the wine.  I decided to stick to comfort and picked a wine from Los Olivos.  I chose Beckman Vineyards.

comfort food

The Cuvee Le Bec (SRP: $25) from Beckmen Vineyards in Los Olivos consists of 45% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 8% Counnoise and 7% Mourvedre.  I paired it with King Ranch Chicken Casserole. I modified the recipe a bit by adding more chicken, eliminating the mushroom soup and adding adobo sauce versus typical Mexican spices.  I must admit, the pairing rocked. 

Tom and Judy Beckmen made their money by producing keyboards and synthesizers. They were the founders of Roland Corp, US. In 1994, they, along with their son Steve, decided to head to the Santa Ynez Valley to begin a career in crafting distinctive wines. They found a 40 acre winery in Los Olivos. They also purchased an unplanted ranch in Ballard Canyon, Purisima Mountain Vineyard in 1996. All of their wines are produced from grapes that are grown on these two vineyards.

Albariño’s Garden

I was walking through the wine store and as I was looking at the signs labeling the regions, I saw Spain and it hit me! I was in the mood for Albariño.  I was introduced to this varietal during a Winestudio session and I fell in love.  So I walked down the aisle and looked for some familiar labels.  Then I thought, why choose one that I already had tried, go for the gusto and pick a new one!  

I grabbed a couple that sounded interesting from the shelf talkers and used cellar trackerExploring the Wine Glass to scan them in and read a bit more about them. I settled on El Jardin de Lucia from Eugenio Pomares Zarate in Galicia, Spain. This is part of the DO Rias Baixas. Galicia is known as the Green Spain because of the similarity to Ireland .  The soil composition in Rias Baixas is responsible for the mineral component of good Albariños along with the typical sea, citrus, green apple, stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas. Great care is taken to ensure healthy ripening. 

This was a tough winery to find any information about. The best I found was that the average age of the vines is 15 years and they are located in the municipalities of Cambados and Ribadumia. This subzone is known for its mild and humid weather and its sandy or shallow soils. The vines are all manually harvested under strict controls.  
It was Wednesday and I worked a wrestling match that lasted an eternity. If anyone follows wrestling- it had 12 JV matches and then the varsity only had 3 pins (of which all took place in the third period) – if you don’t follow wrestling, that basically means it was over 3 hours! So after that, I was not in the mood to cook anything. It was cheese and wine to the rescue! I chose a goat cheese with honey from Gary’s Wine Shop. I love going there! Not only to they have a great selection of wine, but the cheese shop is superb!
Both the cheese and wine were fantastic on their own. I thought that the honey would be amazing with the Albariño, but it really was not that great of a pairing, so I decided to enjoy the cheese for a bit, clean my palate with a cracker or two and then enjoy the wine. I alternated back and forth like that and I was quite content!   

Superbowl LI

What is equivalent to a National Holiday for us in America, the Superbowl, is finally upon us. I of course, do not have a team in the running. I was in high school the last time the Miami Dolphins were in the Super Bowl and they lost 38-16 to the San Francisco 49ers. We did make it to the playoffs this year, in which we had an 8 year drought for that, but they didn’t even bother to show up for the game. Another disappointing season, but I am use to that.  

So it will be the commercials for me. I am kind of interested in seeing Lady Gaga’s half time performance also. I am just hoping that it is a good football game.  I have spent the day preparing pizza for the big game. Earlier in the week, I received an email from Will Rogers of Donna White Communications asking if I would be interested in a wine sample from Terlato Wines.  I graciously accepted and what I found was outstanding. All the kitchen equipment to make homemade pizza and an Italian wine from Cusumano Winery. 

Cusumano Winery is located in Italy and has 502 hectares (1,240 acres) of vine planted. The vines are planted across seven vineyards each with a distinctive terroir.  The largest vineyard, Ficuzza, is located in Piana degli Albanesi in the provinces of Palermo. Second in size at 140 hectares (346 acres) is San Giacomo in Butera in the province of Caltanissetta. The remainder vineyards are found in Caltanissetta, Pachino, and Monreale. 

This 100% Nero d’Avalo, made from 14 year old vines, was harvested San Giacomo, Butera. The fruit was manually harvested over the first ten days of September. After de-stemming, the fruit underwent cold maceration on the skins for two days at 5°C, fermentation at 26°-28°C.  Extreme care was taken to guarantee  frequent re-circulation and removal of the must. Malolactic fermentation occurred in stainless steel. The juice remained in contact with the lees for five months, followed by fining prior to bottling.

I will be writing an entire article about this winery in the near future, so stay tuned and check back frequently! May I suggest signing up for email notifications of new blog posts? Sign up form is in the right column or below! 

Hope you have had some great wines and times these past two weeks. Remember, always Pursue Your Passion. We would love for you to leave a comment telling us what your favorite recent wine was.


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  1. Loved this post and it has definitely given me ideas. I’d love to join you guys for the monthly twitter chat. Looks like a great wine week.

  2. Lots of great info in this post! And nice to see another Albarino fan. And thanks for the recipe links. I think I will give your pasta carbonara a try. Looks delicious and simple too ( a big plus for me).

    1. Thank you Chris! I really have come to love Albariño and am always looking for a new one to try. Yes that carbonara is so simple!!! I don’t do complex either! ?

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