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Tag: Zinfandel

California Delicious Wine Basket Review

California Delicious Gourmet Gift Baskets

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

*I was provided with a wine basket from California Delicious in exchange for an honest review. There may be affiliate links in this post. Should you click on one and make a purchase, you will be supporting this blog and I will receive monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.*

Recently, I was approached and asked whether I would be interested in writing a review on the wine and baskets produced at California Delicious. I chose to try the Napa Valley Red Wine Gourmet Gift Basket. When it arrived, I was very pleased with the packaging. As you can see to the right, it’s very aesthetically pleasing, and nicely arranged. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. There were little decorative grape bunches in the basket (I have plans for those), and the bow was really festive. It makes a really nice impression right from the get-go.

Upon opening the basket, we found two bottles of wine (a Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel), cheese spread, pretzels, spicy honey mustard, bruschetta, and Ghirardelli chocolates. We decided that we would try the wines with meals that followed snacking on the other items.

Now, it’s important to note, we do not generally eat processed foods in our house (in fact, I’ve even been on a candy-making kick after donating some homemade candy to our church bazaar recently.) We tried the cheese and bruchetta and the pretzels and hot sweet mustard. They are about what you would expect from a gift basket – the real highlight was the collection of Ghirardelli squares.

The wines were both decently good. The 2012 Regalo Valley Ranch Artist Series Pinot Noir had a musty and aromatic nose. We paired it with my spaghetti (1lb ground beef, 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, a splash of red wine, and basil added at the end). It paired nicely, and it was an easy-drinking wine. It was very versatile as a light red wine. The flavor was light, very cherry. It was on the fruitier end of Pinot Noir wines, and it had a vanilla and berry finish. You could also pick up balsamic notes with a little bit of pepper. It’s a great wine for those who don’t drink a lot of wine or who don’t like heavy wines.

The Regalo Valley Ranch 2011 Artist Series Zinfandel was a light Zin. It was all grapes and berries, it was smoother and had more of a coffee flavor than some of the big cigar box Zins we’ve liked in the past. It had notes of vanilla and hazelnut as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. It was easy drinking, with very little heat on the back end. We paired it with a simple steak with a bleu cheese crust and baked potato, and it paired well that way.

The basket would make a very lovely gift for a friend or family member with a special event or celebration. The mild wines make it a nice gift for those who aren’t necessarily “wine aficionados,” but they have just enough complexity to appeal to those who are. The snacks are fun, and the chocolate – who doesn’t like chocolate?

California Delicious has a lot of different gourmet gift baskets that range in pricing. Some of the other baskets of interest include:

Champagne Gift Basket

The Giant All-Star Gift Basket ($59.99) – Do you know someone who is still celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ recent World Series win? This is the perfect gift basket for them.  It includes Giants-themed peanuts and Giants-labeled Mumm Sparkling Brut.

Noah's Ark Newborn Baby Gift Basket

Mickey Mouse Basket of Baby Boy SurprisesMinnie Mouse Basket of Baby Girl Surprisesand Noah’s Ark Baby Gift Basket (all $99.99 each) – These adorable baskets make great little gifts for the new arrival among your friends or family members. I have to say, they are pretty awesome. I’m loving the little stuffed animals in the Noah’s Ark basket.

Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Gift Set

For Thanksgiving, if you can’t be with family or friends, you can let them know you are thinking of them. The Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic ($29.99) gift set would be a nice gesture for the gourmet in your life. The Classic Chardonnay Wine and Cheeseboard ($39.99) includes a gift the recipient can keep using (I didn’t mention this before, but I kept the basket – it makes a nice place to keep fruits from our CSA available for snacking). I also think the Fall Pumpkin Spice Serenity Spa ($59.99) is a great idea. How many people do you know love the PSL?

In all, I enjoy gift baskets. I received one when I graduated from my Master’s degree program many years ago, and I savored every moment.  It stood out as a gift for years, because it was pretty, I got to try some new products, and it felt like I was being spoiled.

Creekside Cellars’ Wine and Cheese Fest

English: Barrels of 2007 Zinfandel wine fermen...

English: Barrels of 2007 Zinfandel wine fermenting in a wine cave in Amador County, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year, Creekside Cellars hosts wine and cheese fest. During the event, many people come in to taste wine and cheese from around the region. Wining Husband and I were curious and decided that we would attend. Boy, were there a lot of people there! We were glad we showed up a few minutes later into the event so that we wouldn’t have to claw our way through lines of people to get to a place where we could try the various wines featured by our favorite spot.

Our favorite wines of the event came from Epic Wines, Doe Mill, and Youngs Market Company. Standouts included:

  • A to Z Pinot Gris ($16) **
  • Breggo Pinot Noir ($30) ***
  • Titus Cabernet Sauvignon ($43) *
  • Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel ($36) ***
  • Montsara Sparkling Cava ($15) *
  • Sequoia Grove Cabernet ($49) **
  • Michael David 7 Heavenly Chardonnay ($28) *
  • Treana white blend ($23) *
  • Doe Mill Old Vine Zinfandel ($24) **
  • Doe Mill Smokey Ridge Red Table Wine ($24) ***
  • Doe Mill Zinfandel Rose ($16) *
  • Doe Mill Late Harvest Zinfandel ($24) ***
  • Trefethen Harmony White ($50) **
  • Talbot Logan Chardonnay ($20) *

There really was quite a range of wines both in terms of quality and taste (the first table we visited was disappointing to us) and in terms of price point. The great thing about events like these is that you get to try out such a wide range of wines, so if you’re someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about wine, you can learn more about what you like and what you don’t like. we definitely added some of the wines to our cellar wish-list.

Creekside: Proprietor’s Selections

English: Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Vend...

English: Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives 2001, a late harvest wine from Alsace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This week’s selection at Creekside Cellars was a combination of wines selected by the proprietors. Overall, we enjoyed the selections.  Here’s a rundown of what we tasted.


2011 Errauriz Sauvignon Blanc, Chili ($14) – This wine was very dry and minerally. There were hints of rosemary, and it reminded us of one of our favorite under $10 drinkable wines, La Ferme Julian Blanc (available at Trader Joe’s).


NV Domaines Schlumberger “Les Princes Abbes” Pinot Gris, Alsace, France ($22) – This wine earned a star and an exclamation mark from us in our notes. It had a sweet nose, and it balanced butter with paint thinner (but in a very good way) – it was strong and robust. This wine would hold up to a variety of rich dishes.


2008 La CremaLos Carneros” Chardonnay, Sonoma ($30) – This was a very nice wine, (worth a star) with hints of butter, pepper, cream, and a hint of oak. There was also ginger and white pepper on the wine’s finish. It would go well with a vegetarian dish that incorporated tofu.


2010 Lange Winery Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($29) – This wine was incredibly smooth, and the only cheese it paired with was the brie, which brought out a bit of its spice. It had sour cherries, paprika, and nutmeg on the finish. Honestly, it was so smooth it was almost invisible, and after the La Crema, it didn’t stand a chance.


2008 Bell Cellars “Canterbury Vineyards” Syrah, Sierra Foothills ($25) – WOW! What a wine. This wine had that cigar box flavor both Wining Husband and I adore in wines. It had notes of butter and chocolate, and its tannins were well-balanced.


2010 Charles & Charles Cabernet 51% & Syrah 49%, Columbia Valley, Washington ($15) – This was another very nice wine. It too hat a cigar box aura about it with cherries, sweet tobacco, and an oil and butter combo. It’s a great wine for under $20.


2009 Murphy Goode “Liars Dice” Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($20) – This wine was also outstanding! It was smooth and had hints of cloves.  It’s highly recommended at one star and an exclamation mark.


2009 Barnard Griffin Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington ($20) – So, this summer we were in Seattle, and we went to a place called The Purple Cafe & Wine Bar. At this bar, they had a selection of wine flights. One such flight was called “The Farm.” This flight consisted of four 2-ounce pours with the themes of “flower, dirt, vegetable, and barn.” The barn wine…well, let’s say its nose definitely smelled like a barn – and it tasted like I would imagine the floor of the barn would taste. Since then, I’ve had a “barn monster.” Why am I telling you all of this? Well, the Barnard Griffin Cab Sauv we tried was a barn wine – but it was a barn wine done right. It had a lot of spice – namely paprika and cayenne pepper. It would pair very, very nicely with curry beef.


For those beer lovers out there, we rounded things off by tasting the Allagash “Black” Belgian Style Stout Beer from Portland, Maine ($15) It was very nice, and tasted of coffee and Guinness. It’s highly recommended!





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To Zin or Not to Zin? There is No Question!

Zinfandel Grapes


This week’s wine tasting at Creekside Cellars featured a selection of Zinfandel wines. It’s always fun to do comparisons of wines, since each has its own unique qualities that it brings to the table. Here’s a list of the wines that we tried.


NV Codorniu Cava, Spain ($10) – This wine was sparkling and had a citrus and wheat bouquet to it.


2010 Ventana Pinot Gris, Monterey 2010 ($12) – This was pretty good. It was floral and sweet with an almond flavor. It would pair well with a pear and candied walnut salad I make.


2010 Talbott Logan “Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay,” Santa Lucia Highlands, ($20) – This wine was filled with notes of butter and spice. It also had hints of dry mustard when paired with the Red Dragon cheese.


2011 Doe Mill Vineyards Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills (Butte County) ($16) – This wine had a cheesy, almost sweaty gym sock nose. On the tasting, it had notes of watermelon, being similar to a Jolly Rancher.


2010 Sextant “Wheelhouse” Zinfandel, Paso Robles ($20) – This wine was quite good. It was both light and spicy and had lots of tannin. It also had notes of cashews and berries.


Laurel Glen 'Terra Rosa' Malbec, Mendoza Argen...

Laurel Glen wine (Photo credit: Renée S.)


2009 Laurel Glen “Za Zin” Old Vine Zin, Lodi ($19) – We did not care much for this wine. It reminded us too much of a “barn” wine that we had at Purple Wine Bar and Cafe some months ago. It was sweet and almost like Play-Dough. It did have notes of allspice, chocolate, cream, and cloves.


2009 Green & Red Vineyards Chiles Canyon Zinfandel, Napa Valley ($24) – This wine was pretty good. It went with everything on the cheese plate, and it had ink and paint on the nose, but became tannic on the swirl. It was buttery.


2009 Joel Gott “Dillian Ranch” Zinfandel, Amador ($27) – This wine was also quite good. It had flavors of vanilla and berry, but at the same time there was a lot of spice and tannin to balance the wine.


2009 Rock Wall “Julie’s Vineyard” Zinfandel, Sonoma ($23) – This wine was outstanding. It had notes of dark chocolate and raspberries. While it was richer than some of the other wines, it was also easy drinking and a bit spicy. It would pair wonderfully with the smothered pork chops I shared with you the other night.


2009 JC Cellars “Sweetwater Springs Vineyard” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley ($43) – This wine was also amazing. It had a french roast coffee nose, and it was filled with spices and allspice. If you’re looking for a wine for a special occasion, this is your wine.



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Food: The Pasta That Made Sarah Cry

English: An example of ground black pepper.

English: An example of ground black pepper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you’re looking for a pasta that will bring tears to someone’s eyes, this is it. Back in grad school at NIU, I served this dish to a friend, and she literally cried. This would go well with a bold Zinfandel. The base of this sauce requires that you purchase andouille sausage and port. Try to find a sausage that has as few preservatives as possible, you won’t regret it.

The Pasta That Made Sarah Cry
Amazing pasts sauce when working from a jar of marinara sauche
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  1. One package whole wheat spaghetti
  2. One jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  3. One yellow onion, chopped
  4. One green and one red bell pepper, both chopped
  5. 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  6. One package andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks
  7. 1 small package baby bella mushrooms from the produce department
  8. 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  9. 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  10. 2-3 green onions, chopped
  11. 1 cup ruby port wine
  12. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  13. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  14. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  15. 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Boil water with a splash of olive oil for pasta.
  2. While water heats, sauté onion through garlic in 1 tbsp butter.
  3. When veggies appear soft, add sausage and brown.
  4. Drain fat.
  5. Add mushrooms, sauce, and seasonings.
  6. Refill jar to label (about one cup) with port and add to pasta sauce.
  7. Simmer 10 minutes.
  8. When pasta is al dente, serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
Wining Wife®


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New Clairvaux New Release Party

English: Wine tasting sign outside of New Clai...

English: Wine tasting sign outside of New Clairvaux Abbey in Vina, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


New Clairvaux Vineyard is a personal favorite. They always deliver when it comes to good, quality wine. They had a release party for their Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel and Napa Valley Primativo, and they allowed us to taste many of their quality wines. Here’s a rundown of our notes.


2011 St. James Viognier 12.6% alcohol ($16) – This wine’s nose had a peach and lemon bouquet. The wine was nice, sweet, and off-dry. It would pair very well with white fish with sauteed mushrooms.


2011 St. James Syrah Rose 13.4% alcohol ($14) – This was very summery. It had a smokey nose and had notes of orange and strawberries. This New Clairvaux wine would pair quite well with sausage.


2009 St. James Syrah 14.1% alcohol ($17) – This wine had a lovely, buttery nose. It was full bodied and had notes of black cherries, white pepper, and plums. It would be a very nice pairing with pasta – especially a pasta with a white, creamy sauce.


New Clairvaux’s Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel and Primativo wines

2010 Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel 15.1% alcohol ($28) – This was my favorite wine of the tasting. The vines were planted seventy years ago in Napa. They produce less fruit, but more flavor. They were aged in American-French Oak for 18 months. The wine had notes of plums, cherry, vanilla, cloves, anise, licorice, and oak. It would be a lovely pairing for a Greek eggplant feta cheese casserole Wining Husband makes.


 2011 Aimée Napa Valley Primativo 16.2% alcohol ($22) – The Primativo grape is genetically the same as the Zinfandel grape, though the wine is higher in alcohol content which makes it slightly sweeter and bolder. The Primativo grape is the first grape to ripen, and legend has it that wine from the Primativo grape was the wine to be served at the Last Supper. This wine gave off a bouquet of licorice on the nose. It was sweet and had notes of berries, milk chocolate, mocha, cigar box, tobacco, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. It was a robust wine with a lavender color that would pair very well with Wining Husband’s spicy chicken recipe.

2009 Poor Souls Petite Syrah 13.1% alcohol ($18) – This wine had notes of almonds and a nutty flavor to it. It also had notes of Italian spice, allspice, cherry, and plum. It was dryer, and was more of a cheddar than a mozzarella. This was also quite nice as far as wines go.

If you’re close to Vina, California, I strongly suggest visiting this vineyard and tasting their wines. They are consistently very good.



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A Labor of Love Tasting

Ripe Sauvignon blanc grapes.

Ripe Sauvignon blanc grapes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This week’s tasting at Creekside was called “A Labor of Love.” The wines at this tasting were all made by family-owned wineries, and the cheeses were provided by family-owned dairies and cheese-makers. We tried eight of the ten wines (We skipped the Frank Family Chardonnay only because we’ve had it before and quite enjoyed it). Here are the notes.


2011 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($17) – This wine is big, creamy, and beefy. It is halfway between a Chardonnay and a Riesling. It was nice, and has been a perpetual favorite of ours.


2009 Treana 50% Viognier and 50% Marsanne, Central Coast ($23) – This wine has citrus and kumquot notes and is very green on the nose. It also has subtle notes of Italian seasoning woven through.


2011 Buoncristiani Rosé of Syrah & Malbec, Napa Valley ($20) – This wine is phenomenal! It is good with white cheddar and olives. It is smooth, light, and refreshing with hints of blueberries. It’s one of the new rosé wines that proves that rosé is not limited to the dull white zins of the past.


Pinot noir growing in the French wine region o...

Pinot noir growing in the French wine region of Burgundy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2009 Athair Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma ($37) – This wine was also quite excellent. It had notes of tobacco and spicy red peppers. It was absolutely excellent when paired with the Humboldt Fog cheese.


2010 Middleton Family Wines “Casa de Arcillia” Tempranillo, Paso Robles ($18) – This wine was very nice as well. It was creamy yet balanced. It was big with that cigar box nose that makes me just want to run away with the glass into a corner and savor it. IT had notes of fruit, pepper, and spice and was very well balanced. It paired well with the white cheddar.


2009 Haraszthy Family Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi ($16) – I was stunned to learn the price of this outstanding must-try wine. It is well balanced, with a heavy creamy body, and that lovely cigar box aura that we love so much. It also had some hints of rust – but in a good way. This one is a must-try for your list.

2009 Marietta Cellars Angeli Cuvee, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah & Caringnan, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County ($30) – This is a bit generic as far as wines go (it may be that it was overshadowed by the Haraszthy Family Old Vine Zinfandel). It has notes of fruit juice, cigar and spices. It was also quite good.

2008 Bell Cellars “Claret” 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Syrah, 5% Petite Verdot, and 3% each of Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, & Petite Syrah, Napa Valley ($33) – This red blend was very nice. It had notes of vanilla, almonds, raspberries, and dark chocolate. It too comes highly recommended.  



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Creekside’s Hazy Days Tasting


Baby Grapes

Baby Grapes (Photo credit: AdamLogan)


This week’s tasting featured some nice wines. The theme was the “Lazy Hazy Days of Summer” – and the wines were nice wines to complement the theme. This week’s tasting featured nine wines, we tasted eight of those wines.


2011 Voss Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley – ($19) – This wine had a hay and Cheerios bouquet on the nose. It had hints of grass as well as raw egg and peach.


Pinot noir grapes have a much darker hue than ...

Pinot noir grapes have a much darker hue than the bluish-gray coloring of Pinot gris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2010 Benton Lane Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, Oregon – ($17) – This was a good generic white, it had apricot notes and paired quite well with the Petite Agour cheese (sheep’s milk cheese with a nutty brown butter flavor from the French Pyrenees) that was served.


2009 Sbragia Chardonnay from Dry Creek, Sonoma – ($27) – This chardonnay was a lovely combination of oak butter, and cream. It would pair well with the creamy Swedish meatball dish I make. It also had some subtle hints of cantaloupe during the tasting.


2011 Muga Rose of Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain – ($13) – This rosé was sour with a watermelon nose. It had notes of grapefruit with a bit of kick and spice. It was a bit like a sour Jolly Rancher.

2009 The Dreaming Tree “Crush” Red Blend from the North Coast – ($17) – This wine was very nice and balanced. It had a cigar box feel to it with berry notes. It was sweet with a bit of a bacon fat taste – but in a very good way. This wine also carried notes of pluots – it was very good and very nicely crafted.

2008 St. Amant Tempranillo from Amador County – ($18) – This wine was wow. It’s nose contained hints of the ocean and a forest and cigar box taste. It was just lovely as a wine.

2008 Cooper Vineyard Zinfandel from Amador County – ($26) – This wine was also very nice. It was big, beefy, yet at the same time it was a balanced and well-rounded Zinfandel. There were notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and plums. It would pair very well with beef bourguinon, steak, or beef tacos.

2009 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley – ($38) – This wine was smooth. It had sweat on the nose, but somehow that smelled good. On the tasting there were notes of chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut.

Have you had any of these wines? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.




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