Cheese, wine, and chocolate are a friendly trio.
With so many delicious wine and food options,
keeping it simple over the Christmas and holiday season is ideal.
Cheese and wine make for a great starter, or dessert course.
Chocolate and wine, especially red wines, are best friends.
Aged, hard cheeses can be served along side wine and chocolate.
Cheese & Wine Pairing tips for the holidays
...and for 2019!
Brie & Bubbles.
Serve Brie with dry Champagne/sparkling wine. The yeast of the Champagne elevates the
musty-ness of the Brie. Expand the flavors with dried Slab apricots.
Try a Santa Cruz Mountain Champagne style wine...Equinox Wines (link)
locally crafts some of the best sparkling wines!
Pinot Noir & Bleu d’Auvergne.
Sharp and creamy, blue cheese is notoriously good sprinkled over grilled steak.
The tangy cheese pairs classically with a dried cranberry, walnut, spinach and bacon salad.
A Pinot Noir with a bit more body elevates these foods.
Go for a flavor explosion and add dates, honey, and dark chocolate.
Try Morgan Winery's Pinot Noirs (link.)
Chardonnay & Comte'.
One of my new favorite cheeses, Comte'
is produced in large wheels, up to 85-100 pounds.
Enjoy hints of stone fruit, toasted nuts, and cream.
Wrights Station Vineyard and Winery offers 3 local Chardonnays to choose from (link.)
Enjoy a Late Harvest Zinfandel (dessert wine) or Port with dark chocolate.
Try Storrs Winery's Late Harvest Zin (link.)
Or tuck into a glass of Merlot with chocolate cake.
Go for a cool weather Monterey County or Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot.
Bargetto Winery's 2016 Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, would be spot on with the cocoa flavors (link.)
Cheeses of Europe
hosted a cheese and wine pairing at the WBC.
Recently my lactose intolerant friend was in Portugal.
Being the gracious guest she is, she ate the local cheese and was fine!
But once back at home, she had difficulty with chain grocery store cheese.
I find that “cleaner” foods (natural, un-mucked foods) work better for our bodies.
Cheeses of Europe served cheeses that were from specific regions,
aged with natural methods, and made with natural, whole ingredients.
Qualities that make for an excellent product.
For recipes and cheese tips, visit Cheeses of Europe.
So find a local cheese producer or look for European cheeses made with all natural ingredients.
You may have success with that...and get back together with cheese!
Pair with Bay Area wines and celebrate the season.
Cheers to your Christmas season and to the love of cheese, wine, and chocolate!
For more flavor profiles, visit my Nose & Palate page and taste away!
The Wine Blending Seminar at Scheid Winery was a chance to explore
different combinations of wines & flavors.
If only school were this enjoyable!
I had the chance to mix and pour wines at the
Blending Seminar at Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room in Carmel.
The evening was a chance for guests to try their hand at
creating their own signature blend of wine.
To top it off, the feature was published on Edible Monterey Bay Online (link to story.)
"Guests introduced themselves. Then they started tasting each varietal. Next came the combining, and spilling, of wines. Then more tasting, as table-mates shared their concoctions with each other and chose a favorite wine. An eye catching name was a must!"
"Names flew across the tables as tasters tried to summarize their wines.
Alliances quickly formed as judging began. Shouts and enthusiasm grew as the wine took
hold of tasters and people cheered for their favorite wine."
A special thanks to Scheid Vineyards (Link) and Monterey County Wines (Link.)
It was a wonderful collaboration!
A toast to your wine journey--spills, new acquaintances, and all!
For the full feature, visit my story on EMB.
No apologies, and no excuses. That's what I think is characteristic, and comes to my mind, of Joyce Vineyards. Russell Joyce is winemaker of Joyce Vineyards in Carmel Valley. He approaches his winemaking with intention and his own unique style.
Russell prefers his grapes to be pick earlier in the season than many of his peers do. Wines from 2016, and on, are barrel aged in neutral oak. No new oak is used. These factors keep the wine more delicate and fresh in flavor, and lower in alcohol (typically 14% or less.) The wines offer a lighter mouth feel, and don't tend to be heavy or full bodied.
I can picture Joyce wines pairing well with Coastal warm-weather foods, such as fresh crab and sourdough bread, lemon marinated chicken, grilled lamb chops, or grilled veggie kabobs.
Rafael Perez, manager, shared about Joyce Vineyards' beginnings:
Russell Joyce, and father Frank Joyce, spearhead the brand and the wines. Joyce Vineyards was established in 1988. The back of the Joyce family property was sloped, so they decided to plant grape vines to retain the land. The vines matured, grapes grew, and the family started making wine in their garage as a hobby. Russell grew up with family friends in the wine industry. There would be races to see who could pick the fastest during local harvests. Russell took over production in 2012, and the family still takes care of the original small family vineyard.
Carmel Valley is a destination spot, Rafael reminded me, with an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms. With so many options in one place, it helps promote the local wine business and brings in guests instead of taking away business. “Carmel is a small community and we all know each other. There's an open friendship with others in the wine community.” He also shared that it's not a secret—how to make wine. I can see how a cohesive outlook makes a place to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
For the tastings:
This has the fresh, clean hints of a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, on the nose.
It's fun and offers some tart Jolly Rancher green apple in the back of the cheeks.
My favorite part of the Joyce branding is their logo. It reminds me of the classic 1960s Cadillac insignia. The wine bottles, décor in the tasting room and production site all bring guests back to the Joyce line, in an appealing way. The labeling on the bottle is straight forward, and the varietal and region are easy to read. This is appealing to tasters, especially those new to wine and wondering what they're trying.
*The Carmel Valley tasting room has a great vibe to it, with music,
outdoor seating, and a Members Patio.
*There's even a large casual-chic dining room with seating to host
an intimate event, or celebration.
*Feel free to bring your four-pawed friend. The patio is dog friendly.
The staff cheerfully went out of their way to supply water for a thirsty canine guest.
*The wine production takes place in their Salinas warehouse.
There's room for winemaker gatherings, forklifts, and memorabilia.
*You can find Joyce wines at the Carmel tasting room, restaurants, and beverage shops.
They distribute in the Bay Area, Fresno, and Los Angeles.
Standing in the tasting room, guests can easily see their options in the Joyce line of wines.
Enjoy a taste of the region with wines made with grapes from: the Santa Lucia Highlands,
Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, and Monterey County.
The Joyce team works with local winegrowers to personalize their fruit.
They can tell the growers what they want: from when the fruit is harvested,
what kind of yields they're looking for, to the flavor profile they're desiring.
After your tastings at Joyce Vineyards, feel free to meander in the cozy town of Carmel Village.
Wine fans can enjoy a visit at Joyce for a quick pop in, for an afternoon, or
turn it into a vacation including dining and lodge nearby.
Here's to trying new wines in Carmel, and your own wine jaunt in the Village!
For more wineries in the area, visit my Monterey County Wineries page. Cheers!
I enjoy a good family story, and The Double L Estate Vineyard—for Double luck—is named after the Morgans' twin daughters. Wines are produced from the 50 acre vineyard, with over half its fruit being Pinot Noir. Morgan wines also source from other Monterey County growers.
There is a rich history of relationships between vintners and farmers in Carmel and the Salinas Valley. This is foundational for Morgan sourcing the fine grapes used in crafting additional varietals of wine, such as: Albarino, Syrah, Riesling, Grenache, and Tempranillo.
You can taste the quality and levels of flavor in Morgan wines. All Double L wines are organically farmed, and most of Morgan wines are vineyard designated.
Owners, Dan and Donna Lee, have been making Santa Lucia Highlands wines for 35 years. The grapes are grown along the Salinas Valley, nestled between the Santa Lucia Range and the Gabilan Range. This area is known for its high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Morgan Winery offers classic style wines from the Monterey County. Their tasting room is celebrating its tenth year at the Crossroads.
Also at the Crossroads is McIntyre Tasting Studio mcintyre-tasting-studio-carmel-viticulture-in-the-santa-lucia-highlands.html
Best to you and your Carmel wine jaunt,
My dad was a nurseryman, and as a child, I grew up next to acres of plants and seedlings growing in our greenhouses. During the work day there was a staff of people planting, loading up the delivery trucks; and a constant fragile and respectful relationship with nature's effect on the land and the plants.
When I met Kristen, daughter of proprietor and winegrower Steve McIntyre, I could see the connection. While she had respect for the wines McIntyre sells, there was a deep affection and almost belonging to the McIntyre heritage and vineyards. The more interaction with the land and the vineyards, the more it becomes a facet of who you are.
Kristen is the Tasting Studio and Sales Manager, as well as the social media gal. As a family business, it's common for her to wear many hats—all while being welcoming and gracious. When you taste at McIntyre, feel free to ask about their vineyards, which are SIP Certified http://www.sipcertified.org/. Steve and his wife Kim bought the land in the early '80's. He's a man of the earth and a farmer at heart. The McIntyre's have played a pivotal role in the Santa Lucia Highlands wine region, planting over 20% of the AVA. They manage their own Estate vineyards and own Monterey Pacific http://montereypacific.com/ which grows wine
grapes for many well known vintners in the Bay Area.
Every winery has natural yeast floating around, similar to a bakery. The McIntyres rely on these natural yeasts in their wine making.
The 2014 Estate Chardonnay is aged in 20% new French oak and goes through the full malolactic process. So it gets a bit of the creaminess from the two. It's a nice California style Chard: it isn't heavily oaked, fresh but not as tart as a stainless.
True to the Santa Lucia Highlands area, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are their main wines.
2013 Kimberly Merlot. The grapes were grown just inside the mouth of the Arroyo Seco Canyon which is a warmer area. It was intriguing tasting a Merlot from the area, and experiencing its distinctiveness. It's dry, slightly smoky, rich, with hints of herbs, fruit forward, but not heavy. The wine is expected to cellar well.
Guests can visit the Tasting Studio and bring home McIntyre wines, but the McIntyres hope you take away a taste of who they are and what's important to them: leaving a small footprint on the environment, giving to the community, and being customer focused as well as caring about relationships with their business peers.
In addition to McIntyre Tasting Studio, other neighborhood tasting rooms wineries http://www.calwinejaunt.com/monterey-region.html are nearby. Safe travels!
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