Sunday, December 25, 2016

Taste and Talk: The 'Land of Gold' with Terra d'Oro Winery

Amador County Offers More than Gold--There's Wine too!


Amador County, is in the Mother Lode, or Sierra Nevada region of California.  Also known as Gold Country, Amador County was created in 1854, and was a prime location during the California Gold Rush of the mid 1800's.  As people around the world began flocking to California for gold, this resulted in some becoming wealthy and new road, schools, and towns being built throughout California.  Moreover, at this time, California was admitted as a State in the Union (1850).  Today Amador County is not just known for its historical significance associated with the Gold Rush, it is also a prime location-for WINE!

Terra d'Oro is one such winery in Amador County. Terra d'Oro, known for its Old Vines, operates on 400 acres of estate vines.  The Winery released their first wines in 1973 under the Montevina label, which was the first Amador County winery to produce wine since Prohibition ended (over 150 years ago).  Since then, Terra d'Oro has earned a fantastic reputation for producing several varietals of high quality wines.  

We had the honor and pleasure of having the wonderful Terra d'Oro Winery as our featured guest on #WiningHourChat. We were able to speak with the winery and the winemaker, Chris Leamy, to learn all about their wines and production methods. So, for our weekly wine chat, all of the chat participants were prepared with their own bottle(s) of Terra d'Oro Wines, food and questions.  Once we established that everyone had a glass in hand, or down the palate, our talks commenced with Terra d'Oro. If you missed this conversation on #WiningHourChat, here's a sample of what we discussed, all in a Twitter hour:

#WiningHourChat: Can you tell us a little about Amador County, it's location, soil, etc.?
Terra d'Oro Winery: Amador County is in Northern California, Sierra Nevada Foothills. Amador County is famous for its Zins, which were first brought by early settlers during the Gold Rush.
Winemaker Chris Leamy:  Yes, it's a beautiful country, about an hour east of Sacramento...It's growing. We have adorable Gold Rush towns, cute B&B's, and some great eating!

#WiningHourChat:  Could you share a little about your winery & vineyards, the methods used, etc.
Terra d'Oro Winery: We have mostly decomposed granite soil composition.  Our winery is home to 487 acres of vineyards, with the biggest crop being Zin. We have been open since 1970, originally under the name Montevina.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: We still produce the Montevina label, but officially changed to Terra d'Oro in 2009. All sustainably farmed.

#WiningHourChat: Mmm, we all love Zins! I read that even though you guys produce many other varietals, Amador County is renowned for its Zinfandel, and that Amador County has a high percentage of old Zinfandel vines. Now, you mentioned 'sustainably farmed,' does that mean you use organic methods?
Terra d'Oro Winery: We are completely sustainable and have several blocks that are organically farmed.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: We are always driven to be as green as possible. And that extends into the winery as well!

#WiningHourChat: Winemaker Chris-How did you get started making wine?
Winemaker Chris Leamy: I studied Biology in college, worked in a food lab, then a winery lab, and voila!  I was hooked. Started at TDO in 2000.

#WiningHourChat: Voila!  Now, which wine varietals does Terra d'Oro Winery produce? (In addition to your fabulous Zinfandel.)
Terra d'Oro Winery: We produce over 25 different wines between our two labels, including multiple Zins.  We also make Aglianico, Teroldego, Friesa and Nebbiolo.

#WiningHourChat: What! I can't believe you guys farm all of these typically Italian grape varietals! Awesome news!
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Don't tell them about the secret Negro Amaro, Trebbiano, or Mammalo field! 
#WiningHourChat: Shhh...Oh my! This is awesome news! Love those Italian grapes.

When asked about any other varietals such as white wines produced by Terra d'Oro, Chris mentioned that they also make Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc &Viogner Blend and Moscato.  After entertaining a few more questions about their wines, it was time to Wine!

#WiningHourChat: We tasted a few of Terra d'Oro's wines, but for tonight, we're featuring your Deaver Zinfandel. Please share some info about this old vine zin.
Terra d'Oro Winery: Deaver is special in that it is from an Ancient vineyard planted in 1881 (130+ year old vines). Wines from this vineyard are structured with great aging capability.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: If the history wasn't enough, that field produces grapes with gorgeous acidity. It produces focused, intense Zinfandel.

#WiningHourChat: Let's move on to our next featured varietal, Terra d' Oro's Barbera. Please tell us about this wine and the process.
Terra d'Oro Winery: We've been producing Barbera since 1974. This one is aged in French Oak and 100% Barbera.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Our Barbera is fermented in stainless with two full weeks on skins. Aged in French, Hungarian, and American oak. Only about 25% new.

#WiningHourChat: I'm really taken by this Barbera! I never actually had one outside of Piedmont, Italy. Impressive.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Barbera expresses itself beautifully in Amador County.

Here's our tasting experience with their wines:


#WiningHourChat's Terra d'Oro Tasting:


Terra d'Oro Deaver Vineyards Zinfandel 2014 
Deaver Vineyards 130+ Year Old Vine Zinfandel was planted back in 1881, when Italian immigrants brought Zinfandel cuttings to the Sierra Foothills, leading to the production of true 'Old Vine' wines. The vineyard produces "truly remarkable fruit with amazing concentration, character, and Shenandoah spice."  Because these vines are so aged, it leads to limited fruit-not limited taste.  When producing Deaver Vineyards Zinfandel, the limited fruit is hand-picked then crushed. Juice is bled before crushing to get maximum extraction. Next, yeast is added to complete fermentation and the wine is aged 14 months in French and American barrels.

Terra d'Oro Deaver Zinfandel has blackberries, vanilla and allspice on the nose and a palate of jam, chocolate, blackberries and tobacco. Terra d'Oro maintains that the old vines add to the dense complexity of the wine.  No argument here as there are layers of fruit. This 130 year Old Vine Zinfandel is rich, flavorful and sexy.  In fact...it's a Zin! Deaver Zinfandel is absolutely "a balance of beauty, power and grace."  14.5% ABV.  


Maggie, @Winegal57, also thoroughly enjoyed the Deaver Zinfandel and marveled at the "lovely garnet color, with dark fruit, clove, spicy blackberry and spicy plum."  

Terra d'Oro suggests, "For a zesty pairing, serve this wine with a roasted rack of lamb or a juicy ribeye steak." Many of those on the chat also paired with a steak.  Cara, @CaraMiaSG paired her Deaver Zin with "a nice spread of cheese, peppers and jam."  That works too!


Terra d'Oro Barbera 2014
As mentioned, we were only familiar with Italian Barbera from Piedmont, Italy.  Imagine our delight in tasting and learning about this one from Amador!  It was interesting to learn that Barbera is the sixth most planted red grape in California. Terra d'Oro says, "these dark-skinned Barbera grapes thrive, developing lively fruit flavors, refreshing acidity, and a stunning ruby red color."

Terra d'Oro Barbera is fermented in stainless steel for two weeks to extract the maximum color and flavor. It is then aged in small French and Hungarian oak barrels for 15 months, which "integrates toasty oak aromas and flavors with the rich, juicy fruit." We were quite pleased with Terra d'Oro's Barbera and noticed the differences between Italian Barbera and this Californian Barbera.  Whereas the Italian version tends to be a little lighter, this one is rich and loaded with fruit flavors. We smelled cherry aromas and tasted jammy blackberries, tart blueberries and licorice on the palate.  Terra d'Oro Barbera is medium-bodied, with a refreshing acidity that makes you take notice. This versatile Barbera wine pairs with truffle dishes, mushroom pizza, roast pork or a bolognese.  13.5% ABV.


Terra d'Oro is certainly a treasure in the 'Land of Gold.'  We had a great time tasting their wines, having them as our guest and learning about their winery and region.

If ever in Amador County, be sure to stop by Terra d'Oro Winery.  Their wines are also available in stores, online and through their wine club.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Wine Review: Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé

Drink this Rosé for the Holidays...or anytime!

Estandon Rosé 2016The holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends, good food and good wine.  It is always nice to bring a crowd-pleasing wine to a party or provide the ideal wine and food pairing when you host.  So, what do you bring?  Red? White? Bubbly?  How about a rosé?

Despite the fact that rosé is believed to be the quintessential summer drink, it also makes for a good sip throughout the year and during the holidays.  Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is one worthy of consideration.


The Cotes De Provence region, located in Southeast France, is home to huge wine-growing region. There are three major AOC designations, with Côtes de Provence being the largest.  Provence produces wines from a large variety of grapes, including those with Italian, Spanish and Greek origin. Nevertheless, the region is predominantly known for it's rosé wines.  Estandon, regards their region as a "rich and diverse appellation, which gives our vineyards a great diversity of terroirs, whether located by the sea, on the vast plains of the Centre Var or on the slopes further inland. These terroirs, so rich in their differences, impart a typical character to the wines." Here's the rosé we tasted:
Image result for estandon winery
Estandon France
The Wining Hour Review: Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé
Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is made up of percentages or cépages of several varietals: Cinsault, Grenache , Rolle and Syrah.  The grapes are harvested from the best terroirs of the Côtes de Provence A.O.C., including the schist and loam soils in the Maures mountains, the hilltop slopes near Flayosc, the clay-limestone slopes of the commune of Le Thoronet and the variegated sandstone soil of the Cannet des Maures commune.  The grapes used in Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé are mainly harvested by machine and underwent a very short maceration on the skins before pressing. Malolactic fermentation is prevented, and vinification, or fermentation takes place traditionally in temperature-controlled stainless steel barrels.

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Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is pale pink and greets with aromas of peach, pear and melon.  The nose on this wine prepares the palate for a dry, fruity blend of white peach, melon and strawberry. Fresh, light, crisp, refreshing and well-balanced, with perfect acidity.  13% ABV.

Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is an easy-drinking wine, and would be great as an aperitif, or to accompany a variety of holiday dishes, from appetizers and small plates to the main course.  It would certainly pair nicely with turkey, chicken, salads, pasta, crabcakes, oysters, clams, a seafood medley and Mediterranean cuisine.

Estandon is certainly an age-worthy rosé, and definitely one to be shared around the holidays or any time.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Venetian Holiday: Wine, Food, Tradition

Sagre, Mercati, Cibo e Vino in Veneto 

Mercatini di Natale, Verona
Veneto, also known as Venezia, is the beautiful region in northeast Italy,
bordering Austria & Slovania, and extending from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea.  The Veneto has 7 provinces: Belluno, Padua, Rovigo, Treviso, Venice,  Verona and Vicenza. Venice (Venezia), of course, is the regional capital city, which is also appropriately referred to as the "City of Water" or "Floating City," due to its islands and Grand Canal, and for being situated on the Venetian lagoon.  Venice, Verona, Vicenza and the Botanical Gardens in Padua are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  These are beautiful and outstanding places to see when visiting Veneto, but they are especially charming during the holiday season.
Celebrations, Feasts and Festivals
Mass at St. Marks Basilica, Venice-need we say more?  This is the grand Holiday Mass at the Duomo in Venice.
St. Marks Basilica, Venice (Duomo)
San Nicolo di Bari, (Babbo Natale, Santa Claus)
Festa di San Nicola di Bari takes place on Murano Island in Venice. This festival includes a procession on the water and celebrates San Nicola, known in Italy Babbo Natale, or as the original Santa Claus.  San Nicola di Bari is regarded as the patron saint to children, merchants, sailors and others, loved for his kindness and dedication and legendary gift-giving. La Chiesa San Nicolo al Lido is located in Venice and houses his remains.  San Nicola's final resting place was in Bari, Italy, where there are other celebrations.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception- Traditionally celebrated December 8th throughout Italy, with feasts, parades and music. It was officially declared a Feast Day by Pius IX in 1854.
Fiere di Santa Lucia – Traditionally celebrated December 13th throughout Italy with parades and other festivities.  The one in the Veneto takes place in Verona's Piazza Brà. St. Lucia or St. Lucy, is honored for ending the famine by arriving on a ship with grains. Therefore, grain dishes, such as Cuccia (soup), are traditionally eaten on this day.  Other traditions involve children leaving coffee for Santa Lucia, carrots for her donkey and wine for her escort.  Gifts are then left for the children by Santa Lucia the next morning. Hmm, sounds like Santa. 
Santa Lucia Markets & Festival, Piazza Brà

Natale in the Arena-Exhibits and global nativity scenes on display throughout the month in the Arena di Verona (Piazza Brà).
Arena di Verona
Murano Glass Christmas Tree-The tallest glass Christmas tree, found in Murano, which is known for the spectacular Murano glass. 
Murano Glass Christmas Tree

Murano Glass Decorations
Holiday Markets  

Asiago Christmas Market-The Asiago Christmas Garden celebrates just that-Asiago! There is cheese, toys, crafts, decorations, food and more, all sold in little wooden huts.


Cortina d’Ampezzo Christmas Market-Holiday market located on Via Corso, that has traditional crafts, exhibits, shops, mulled wines, roasted chestnuts, sweets, music and more.  Other things not to miss are Cortina Fashion Week, showcasing designer fashion in the exclusive shops and the Snowboardcross Europe Cup event in the surrounding Dolomites.
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Campo San Polo Christmas Markets-Markets selling wine and crafts, located in the heart of Venice, near the Rialto Bridge. Here you will also find the outdoor ice-skating rink for everyone, from the novice to the figure skater. 
Piazza Campo San Polo
Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt-Piazza dei Signori in Verona will feature beautiful German Christmas markets with food, crafts, decorations, gingerbread cookies, pastries, bratwurst, and other typical Bavarian-German fare. More markets are nearby Cortile Mercato Vecchio and Piazza del Tribunale, which have all types of traditional Venetian food, wine and gifts.
Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt
Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas Markets)
Bassano Grappa
Bassano del Grappa Market-Bassano del Grappa is on the foothills of Mount Grappa in Vicenza.  It is not only the home of Grappa, but also home to the Epiphany festival and markets.  Epiphany is a national holiday celebrated in Italy on January 6, based on the story of the three Magi who came to visit Jesus and offer up gifts. From that, La Befana was born, in which a woman flies in on a broomstick and brings gifts to children.  Both La Befana and San Nicola are honored in Italy.  In Bassano, the markets have chocolate, toys, food, crafts and everything that delights, including a carousel, skating rink and Lilliputian Train to transport everyone around.

Bassano del Grappa
 *Others holiday markets of note include the ones in Bussolengo (Flover), Belluno and Treviso.

Venetian Holiday Gastronomy

Although there may be some variation due to the varied geography of the Veneto (coast, mountains and plains), Venetian cuisine is characterized by polenta, risotto, grilled chicken, pork or beef, and of course, seafood, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. The holidays are no different, especially the winter holidays, which usually involve fish-based dishes, whether stewed, baked, grilled or fried.  Typical dishes are Risotto de Pevarasse (Venetian clams risotto) Branzino al forno (oven baked Branzino), Baccala’ Mantecata (salted codfish), Linguine alle Vongole (linguine and clams) or seafood and pasta. Antipasto is prepared with local meats and cheeses, but for the holidays, ossocollo (venetian sausage, made from the pigs neck) is often included. Typical desserts include tiramisu, panettone, pandoro and Mostarda con mascarpone. 

Vino
There are several great wines produced in the Veneto region, which is part of the Tre Venezie (Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Alto Adige and Trentino and Veneto). In terms of Venetian vino, the most notorious might be Amarone della Valpolicella, Valdobbiadene and Cornegliano Prosecco, Soave and Bardolino Superiore.  However, there are 13 DOCG's, 26 DOC's and several IGT wines in the Veneto.

The Wining Hour's Venetian Holiday Selections:

We have several favorite wines in this region, but we decided to narrow it down for a feasible holiday celebration.

1. Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Rustico DOCG 
Nino Franco is one of the oldest wineries in the Valdobbiadene wine region. Rustico Prosecco Superiore is absolutely refreshing, creamy and delicious.  Lemon, apple, pair and white flowers on the nose, green apple and minerals on the palate. Very flavorful. 100% Glera grapes. Because we do enjoy Italian bubbly, we figured we'd pop another:

Altadonna Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG
Fresh, young and vibrant. Altadonna is extra dry with lemon and white peach on the nose and melon, peach and apple on the palate. This sparkling wine wakes up the palate with complex mineral notes. Smooth and refreshing. 100% Glera grapes.

Both proseccos would be delicious as an aperitivo, alone or paired with antipasto, mature and hard cheeses, fish, seafood and chicken.

2.  Borgo San Lorenzo Soave Classico 2012 DOC
Soave is one of Italy's best known whites, and this one presents a good example.  Borgo San Lorenzo Soave Classico is clear to bright yellow in appearance.  It has lime, grapefruit and floral aromas aromas with zesty citrus, pear and melon on the palate. This Soave has a distinct minerality, which is no doubt due to its tuffaceous soil.  Borgo San Lorenzo blends Garganega and Trebbiano for this fruity and delicious Soave.  Soave pairs nicely with seafood, chicken, duck or pork.  We would pair it with an olive oil and herb roasted branzino or our favorite, linguine and clams.

3. We must preface #3 by mentioning how much we love Amarone.  However, Amarone can be expensive.  Here are two reasonable options:

Cantina Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico la Tirela, 2012 DOCG
Made with Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes, Cantina Negrar's Amarone is a dark berry red in color, with intense red fruit aromas and notes of figs and coffee. Delicious tastes of cherry, cigar, black currant and chocolate caress the palate.  This Amarone is a heavy-hitter wine, concentrated, smooth and powerful. 15% ABV. Ready for another?

Antiche Terre Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Antiche is another tasty Amarone. Made with Corvina Veronese and Corvinone Rondinella grapes, this Antiche is a full-bodied Amarone that tastes of plum, cherry and raspberries. 15% ABV.  Pairing options for Amarone are seafood or pastas in red sauces, grilled meats and hard cheeses.  Note that Valpolicella Ripsasso is yet another tasty option if you enjoy this wine.



4. A Venetian Grappa, such as the one listed above from Bassano.  No Italian meal is complete without grappa!

There you have it-traditions and simple wine and food pairings for a Venetian Holiday!

From a variety of holiday markets, nativity exhibits, concerts, shows, food and wine, the infamous Mass at St. Marks Basilica and more, the Veneto region is the place to be during the winter holiday season.  As a bonus, there are far less crowds in Veneto than in several other regions.

Have you experienced Venezia during the holidays?  Have you visited any other Italian regions during the Holiday season?   

Well, there are more Christmas and Italian holiday treasures to be discovered.  Join my fellow bloggers below and if you catch us in time, chat with us live on Twitter this Saturday December 3rd at 11am EST #ItalianFWT.

Vino Travels -Christmas in Molise

Feast on History – Feast of the Seven Fishes in Italy: Myth or Tradition?

Culinary Adventures of Camilla – Biscotti di Castagne + Vin Santo Dei Chianti

Avvinare – A Florentine Christmas

L'Occasion - 5 Italian Christmas Dishes and Wine Pairings

The Wining Hour - A Venetian Holiday: Wine, Food,Tradition

The Wine Predator - Italian Holiday Traditions Adapted to California Conditions: 3 dishes with wine

Next month Susannah from Avvinare will host coastal reds and whites along with foods and travel to coastal regions on January 7th. 


About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Get Social with The Wining Hour: