Category Archives: wine review

Echelon Chardonnay & Pinot Grigio: A Relaxing Review

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Above is the perfect example of what I’ve WANTED to do lately…relax in my garden with a delightful bottle of wine, watch the butterflies dance on the breeze, the squirrels play tag, and my family play in the pool.  Add in some food, friends, and a good book and I’d be in nirvana. (Some Nirvana playing in the background would work too…nah, not mellow enough…let’s change that to some Jack Johnson & DMB.)

But with my temporary work schedule (more about that on another post) that’s just a wistful daydream.

I can’t even enjoy a glass of wine during the week — Quelle horreur!  The promising pop of a cork sliding from a bottle, the gentle glug of wine lapping against a crystal glass, the complex aroma swirling through the heavy air, that first sip of nectar… 

Can you tell I’m in withdrawal?

Luckily, the wonderful people at Echelon Vineyards were kind enough to send me samples of their Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Red Blend wines.  And a handy-dandy corkscrew, much to my Hubby’s infinite delight.  Heaven in a box.

First up was the 2010 Pinot Grigio. This crisp, almost fruity wine was absolutely perfect after a long, hot Florida Saturday.

 The citrus tones complimented the hints of almost… sweetness…an ideal wine  for some alfresco poolside dining. (How I wished I had the time to pop on a pool float with a book and a cool glass of the wine!) I paired it with one of my favorite dinners of chicken in wine sauce with risotto, and the Hubby and I enjoyed a lovely evening in our own little backyard oasis.  Cool, refreshing, and delicious.

After a pedicure, lunch, and shopping with my mom on Mother’s Day, I came home to find my Hubby cleaning the house and prepping dinner. {ahhh…}

He handed me my book and a glass of the Echelon Collection Chardonnay — bliss!  This Napa Valley Chardonnay seemed to gently roll out of the glass, richer and more lush than the Pinot Grigio, yet still lovely on a summer evening.  It’s flavor hinted of vanilla and made me crave an apple pie. The wine was not overly oaky or buttery, as some Chardonnays tend to be. Lovely, mellow, and balanced.

It paired perfectly with my Mother’s Day dinner of grilled balsamic chicken topped with prosciutto. If only there had been enough left to pair with dessert…

Both wines are excellent values for their price point of about $10 and would be a welcome addition to any get-together with friends or quiet evening in.

I do have to add, I loved this little bit of marketing prose by the Echelon Vineyards team:

We think you’re entitled to some recognition too. We believe wine is a simple reward and makes every day a celebration. Whether you’ve completed a 5K run, successfully put the kids to bed for the night, survived a challenging work day, or finished making a killer roast chicken, pour yourself a glass of Echelon and celebrate life’s small blessings!

I couldn’t agree more.  Cheers!

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. 

Celebrating with Cupcake Prosecco

Last Wednesday I finished the first draft of my novel. {cue applause, fist bumps, high-fives, and whoo-hoos }  Surviving my first such labor called for a celebration. It was time to break out the bubbly.

Luckily, my dear Hubby was thoughtful enough to take out the good flutes and pop my bottle of Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco into the fridge to properly chill. The celebration was ON.

 A few bubbly basics: just because a wine has bubbles does not make it a champagne. Any wine which bubbles when poured into a glass is considered a sparkling wine. Varieties are produced around the globe, from South Africa to Germany to even Texas. Most are produced by a similar technique: a second fermentation of the wine produces carbon dioxide which is kept under pressure and creates bubbles. A true Champagne must be made in the Champagne region of France, about 90 mile northeast of Paris. 

Prosecco is a sparkling wine made only in the Veneto region of Italy (think gondolas and grapes).  It is generally a fresh, dry wine, meant to be drunk while still young (the wine, not the drinker).

I first sampled Prosecco while while on my honeymoon in Italy. I have many fond memories of drinking the bubbly (and some pictures that I don’t quite remember) after my wedding in Rome and while wandering through a flooded Venice with a bottle in hand.

So generally, it’s safe to say I like Prosecco. And I most certainly enjoyed the Cupcake variety.

It was much lighter and less complicated than a fussy Champagne. The crisp, clean flavors reminded me of fresh tart apples with a drop of homemade lemonade. It was vibrant and dry with just a subtle dose of sweetness. The nose was slightly citrusy, but the dry effervescence of nearly any sparkling wine usually overwhelms me too much to properly detect the aroma.

The Cupcake Prosecco would be a delightful addition to any celebration, and its price point simply cannot be beat. While it is excellent on its own, it would make a mean Bellini or Mimosa as well.

Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco D.O.C. 2010

Pairings: Perfect with nearly any appetizer.

Price:  Suggested retail $13.99, but I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $7.99 (a steal!)

Availability: Nationally

Related Posts: Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity.  


Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc: Flippant Food & Wine Friday

Any blog regulars or twitter followers should know how I adore wine. Some women relax with crochet needles, some go for Prozac, I savor a glass (or two) of wine at the end of the day. So when Cupcake Vineyards asked if I wanted to review a selection of their wines…there was no arm twisting necessary…only dreams of untwisting a few caps from bottles of their varied vintages.

And I do mean varied.  When most people picture a vineyard, rows of lush grape vines and villas come to mind, the grapes harvested, bottled, and distributed from the same carefully tended land.  The Cupcake Vineyards winery resides in Soledad, California, far south of the famed Napa Valley. But since each grape variety has distinctly different needs, they also buy grapes from around the world, taking advantage of the unique soils, micro-climates, and generations of experience to expand their wine selection.

Cupcake’s Sauvignon Blanc hails from the cool climes of Marlborough, New Zealand, the country’s largest wine growing region.

I was nearly startled by my first sip of the Sauvignon Blanc. The cool, crisp, nearly tart wine was the virtual opposite of my go-to buttery and oaky chardonnay.  After a few minutes if opened up just a bit, the flavor mellowing into a delightful mix of fresh greens and zingy citrus.

This pale, light-to-medium bodied wine was quite refreshing. The winemaker calls out the bright lemon and lime tastes; I was reminded of a Granny Smith apple (perhaps because I was staring at a bowl full of them). Either way, I was inspired to bake an apple cake as I sipped the delightful wine.

It paired well with a grilled chicken salad, the wine echoing the crispness and freshness of the vegetables. Perfect for a summer afternoon or dining al fresco on a balmy Florida fall evening.

Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Pairings: White meats (chicken, light fish, shellfish), light vinaigrettes, salads.

Price: Suggested $13.99

Availability: Nationwide

*This product was sent to me for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity.