Monday, November 23, 2009


ZinfanGirl is a spoiled lil girl indeed! After a "fake" surprise birthday Thursday night to throw me off the trail, ZinfanHubby surprised me with the coolest birthday party I have ever had. ZinfanGirl's favorite candy is the local Jelly Belly brand jelly beans. ZinfanGirl's favorite drink is wine. Fave candy + fave wine =

Jelly Bean Wine Bar

Brilliant! I walked into a room to be greeted by 20 great ZinfanFriends and a whole lot of Jelly Bellies & wine.

ZinfanHubby sets up the "wine tasting" and the big surprise!

Blackberry (?) flavored Jelly Belly beans to pair with Central Coast Zinfandel

Can you believe there is a dirt flavored Jelly Belly?!

Lots of Zinfandels on hand, natch!

Super-duper, infinitely cool times eleventy billion. Props, ZinfanHubby! Everyone had a blast, wine novices & connoisseurs alike. Though I was not part of the plotting & set-up, I can deduce that this tasting takes quite awhile to set up (labelling the bean flavors, sorting them by "wine") and can cause a small mess (alcohol + small candies = mess). But it was a huge hit, and an awesome way to get newbies involved.

And if any ZinfanFriends out there would like to give it a try, please let me know. We have tons of leftover jelly beans (yet surprisingly, no leftover wine).

Jelly Bellies Up!

*Thanks to my lovely ZinfanFriend D for letting me nab her pics for this blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: 2006 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve

As I've mentioned a bit lately, the Chards have been my most recent wine of choice. Robert Mondavi's '06 Chard Reserve is another yum-yum in my book.
ZinfanHubby & I had visited Mondavi for the first time back in May while in Napa for our anniversary. As members of another Constellation wine club (Ravenswood), we got to skip the crowded main tasting room and got the VIP treatment & tasting (& cheese!) in the back. We do not buy white wines often, much less Chardonnay, but this one was too good.
ZinfanGirl's first thought upon opening the bottle: hello, mellow yellow! I mean seriously, "honey" "straw" and even "golden" don't do this wine justice. Next up was the smell. I am instantly transported back to my younger days as Non-AlcoholicGirl, as this Chard smells exactly like Martinelli's sparkling apple cider. Maybe this wine was created with kids in mind: it has undertones of caramel apple... or is it kettle corn? Slightly creamy yet tart yet fruity. Yum. Keep out of the reach of kids, OK?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review: 2008 Qupé "Y" Block Chardonnay

I think my "weather-appropriate wine-o-meter" device is off because man! I am loving Chardonnay lately! One would think that with the cooler weather and shorter days that reds would be at the top of ZinfanGirl's list, but the Chards keep pulling through.

Last night, it was on me to find a wine to pair with a lemon-pepper pasta dish we were making for dinner. I think I did good with Qupe's 2008 "Y" Block Chardonnay. Well actually, Whole Foods did good, as I selected this wine based on WF's review that it "pairs well with poultry or seafood pasta." We've been loving the Central Coast lately as well, so it seemed like a good bet.

The color is extremely pale: straw with some very mild green undertones. It smells buttery (hi, oak barrels) yet slightly crisp. ZinfanGirl likes butter, so buttery Chards are always a plus. First sip has a very buttery forward and middle, and a lingering finish throughout the mouth. There is not much acid in this wine-- surprising for a white wine, IMO. The climax of this wine is in the forward; the back is a bit lacking. But it did pair fabulously with our lemon-pepper-chicken-pasta, so it all worked out well in the end.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's All in the Glass

Earlier this year, ZinfanHubby, ZinfanSis & I trekked up north to Oregon to visit my lovely Gram & Grandpa. Ashland, Oregon really is a cute little town, most known for its annual Shakespeare Festival. Though they are wonderful, warm hosts who love having their grandkids visit, Gram & Grandpa don't have much energy for getting out and about, and the three of us spent quite a bit of time exploring the little town while they relaxed at home.

In search of a refreshment, we happened across Liquid Assets. Denise, the owner, was happy to recommend some snacks, suggest some wine flights and a non-alcoholic drink for underage ZinfanSis. We were delighted with their small but solid selection of bottles; it's been awhile, but I know they had a Biale or two (!!!) for sale. We walked away with a bottle of Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir, a biodynamic Oregonian wine. When in Rome & all that...

Imagine our surprise when we got the wine back to my grandparents' house, removed the capsule and see... glass? No, not the bottle (c'mon, ZinfanGirl isn't that dense), but where the cork should be there was glass instead. What in the...?!?!

The next day we returned to Liquid Assets, and Denise explained the story behind the corkless cork. Resonance winery prides itself on being sustainable and biodynamic, and eschew corks (and the harvesting of cork trees) in favor of glass. Hm, makes sense. Denise continued to tell us that the glass "cork" could also be used as a stopper on other bottles. Sustainable indeed!

ZinfanHubby & I always nab Pinot Noirs for Thanksgiving. We instantly thought of Resonance and their cool glass stopper. Alas, The Resonance Pinot Noir is all but sold out, but another Oregon winery, Sineann, makes a well-reviewed Pinot from Resonance vineyard grapes. Sineann is also corkless, and explains a bit behind their cork-free wines on their site. Sineann's site claims that glass stoppers do not compromise the taste or quality of the wine; in fact, it touts glass stoppers as being superior to cork in terms of fruit preservation and consistency among bottle quality. ZinfanGirl appreciates this, but mostly likes the glass stoppers because they look frickin' cool.

After a bit of research, ZinfanGirl can tell you that Resonance wines, and possibly Sineann as well, use the "Vino-Seal" glass stopper by Alcoa (check out an interesting article about wineries using Alcoa's corkless stopper here). I have heard much debate over real cork vs. synthetic cork vs. screw-cap, but not much talk about glass. Why not? Granted I don't know much about the scientific aspects of each which would obviously determine which is the "best" sealing method, but... didn't I mention that the glass stoppers are frickin' cool?!

ZinfanReaders, I'd love to hear your thoughts on glass stoppers. Experiences, opinions, theories, stories... send 'em my way.

Zinfully yours,

Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: Four Vines 2006 Syrah (One Tree Hill)

On our recent trip to Paso Robles, we popped by one of our new favorite wineries/most recent wine club, Four Vines. Sadly, they were indeed still out of the Sophisticate Zinfandel that we love so much, but that didn't stop us from nabbing a few more bottles. One of them was their 2006 Los Alamos vineyard One Tree Hill Syrah. As I believe I have mentioned before, ZinfanGirl is usually indifferent about Syrah, but once again Four Vines is able to surprise me.

Reddish with almost a carmel hue to it, this Syrah isn't as POW! as most other Syrahs I've had. Four Vines claims this is due to the "low yield cool climate," which is fine by me. Leggy with just enough fruit, the main aroma and flavors of this one are spice & pepper. The body is rounded and smooth, noticeable in the mouth but not too heavy. Clean finish with just a linger of peppery goodness. I bet this would go well with blackened... well, blackened anything, really, which is probably what prompted ZinfanHubby to nab a bottle.

Another Four Vines success story, but overall I will stick to their Zinfandels and blends. Just you wait 'til I review their 2007 Cypher. That is going to be fun!

Review: 2006 Seghesio Home Ranch Petite Sirah

**Apologies, as I was not able to find a picture of Seghesio's 2006 Home Ranch Petite Sirah. Under the Grape Tree blog has a picture up, but since ZinfanGirl is cautious of photo theft & copyright infringement & blah blah blah, she figured she'd just link to the blog (and their review of the same wine) instead.**

There are two wines that ZinfanGirl can almost always peg on site: white Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. Looking at this wine sitting in my glass, I see this is a fairly leggy wine, dripping slowly down the edges as I swirl it. It smells warm, the way pumpkin pie smells warm-- don't get me wrong, I am not saying this wine smells like pumpkin pie (although that actually sounds kinda yummy...). Maybe it's clove or cinnamon. Let's give it a taste, shall we?

Wow, what a body on this wine! The mid-palate is where it's at! The warmth of the nose also continues down my throat, but not in an unpleasant burning way. Tannins in the finish are just enough to be noticed but without the moisture-sucking-ness of, say, a Cabernet Sauvignon.

There is definitely a dark/bramble fruit presence but it takes a back seat to the "warmy" essence. It's a toasted spice of some sort-- I bet this would make for an interesting mulled wine if it weren't so heavy. And at 15.5% alcohol, definitely proceed with caution. ZinfanGirl is continuously amazed at how just a 1% - 2% increase in alcohol/volume can affect her body & brain (like the time ZinFanHubby brought a bottle of Seghesio's Venom to France. After having spent months drinking 12% alcohol/volume French wines, one sip of this 16+% sangiovese knocked me on my ZinfanAss).

Although I think this wine *could* be matched up with food, its unique flavors and luscious body make it a fine stand-alone wine. Thumbs up, Seghesio.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Seghesio Marian's Reserve 2007 Alexander Valley Red Table Wine

It's been awhile since ZinfanHubby & I have cracked into a Seghesio. We received a club shipment not too long ago and while entertaining guests the other night, decided to pull one out. Our options were either the Marian's Reserve or a Four Vines; having recently opened a Four Vines, Seghesio won out (clearly there was a lack of ZinfanLogic here, as we are going to Templeton this weekend and will surely stop at Four Vines). C'est la vie & stuff.

34% Zinfandel, 33% Petite Syrah (it shows!) and 33% Carignane, this wine packs a punch at a whopping 15.5% alcohol/volume. OK, math lesson over. Maybe ZinfanGirl has become overly sensitive to alcohol over the years, but the boozy-burning scent comes through almost as strongly as the jam of the Zin. As mentioned, the wine looks like a PS: practically purple & inky (in fact, having saved the bottle, I notice a small drip down the white label and it is blue. No exaggeration). Tannins throughout the taste, but they don't suck the moisture out of your mouth too much. The finish is clean and smooth, with a touch of fruit. Drinking this wine makes me want steak. I can't really ID any specific fruit, but the fruitiness is definitely there. This wine is nice: nothing memorable, but that works both ways, yeah?

Clearly ZinfanGirl has *some* fond memories of Seghesio...

Gettin' some ♥ZinfanLove♥ at Seghesio- July '07 (thanks to my ZinfanFriend Lindsey for the pic!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: Wine Tycoon

ZinfanGirl considers herself fortunate that she does not tend to get sucked into time-consuming mindless games. She does not think twice about blocking Farmville invites on Facebook, and rarely picks up a video game controller (except Rock Band. She does love Rock Band). But she has always loved controlling things, which explains her lifelong love of the Sims games. So imagine her delight when a Sims-like game for wine-os hit the shelves...

Many hours were played, many liters of wine bottled, many regions of France explored. So why oh why does this game suck so bad?!

Any wine tycoon, real or fictional, can sum this up in one word: bugs. A freeze here, a glitch there-- these are all forgiveable flaws. I understand that Wine Tycoon is not backed by some game giant like Electronic Arts and therefore shouldn't be compared to such multi-million dollar standards. But y'know, when playing a game, I kind of take for granted that I'll be able to save. I have yet to be able to do so in Wine Tycoon. Sure the Save Game menu is there. It's right next to the Load Game menu. But type in a name, click "save" and try, just TRY to find it again. Good luck.

I did enjoy playing around the various regions of France (yes, the game is based entirely in France). Naturally my heart fluttered when, in the description of Champagne, I saw my former town of Troyes mentioned by name. Having an interactive outlet to help me memorize learn about different French varietals, wines and regions is really great. For a lower-budget game, the graphics aren't bad. I amused myself for hours trying to earn enough money to pay my workers, buy the best equipment possible, and protect my grapes from the Four Ills of Wine Tycoon: Pests, Overgrowth, Weeds and Soil Infertility.

So much potential, it breaks my ZinfanHeart. Aside from the Save issue (seriously, I still can't wrap my head around that one), there are a few other bugs. For instance, while playing in the Burgundy region, I got a request to sell some St Aubin, aged 2 years. Yet in the "Blending" section of the game, it is impossible to age St. Aubin. "Some wines should not be aged," it says. True enough, but then why, dear Wine Tycoon, are you ASKING for it?! In the "Career Mode" option, I am only able to play in Alsace. Other bugs include: some wines having $0 value (I had a batch of wine X-- forget which one it was-- and I would be asked to sell this wine for $0 no matter how great/small the quantity), some vineyards being unresponsive to treatments (yet they grew just fine anyway), and the mysterious hiring of workers (no, dammit, I said ONE bottler!). So, that's my technical opinion.

I was also bummed about not being able to participate more in the growing process. You pick a vineyard, pick a grape to plant, and that's it. But as most wine-o's know, there's much more to it than that. Vines on top of a hill are different than wines grown below. Direction plays a role too. And ZinfanGirl can attest first-hand that the weather is not uniform throughout France, which Wine Tycoon leads you to believe. It does not snow often in Provence, so please stop making it look like Christmastime in Troyes.

While there is different equipment you can buy for each step of the wine making, the only thing differentiating them is price, production and size. Barrels are barrels, no wood or steel. I know there are different presses on the market too. And why lump all "weeds" and "pests" together? Give the noble rot some love, yo!

So, my bottom line: Is it worth $20? I have certainly made stupider purchases in my lifetime. In the grand scheme of things, $20 isn't much for a few hours' of mindless entertainment-- hell, that's cheaper than a movie ticket + popcorn, and unlike going to the movies you can play Wine Tycoon naked from the comfort of your own home. But don't get your hopes up: other than a concise lesson on French wines, this game will not fulfill your dream to be a Wine Tycoon. Sorry, kids. They tried. They really did.

Wine Tycoon by Got Game Entertainment

P.S.- I do have an email in to their customer support about the Save issue. I will post back here ASAP if/when I get a response.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I am a Wine Tycoon!

Dear readers,

ZinfanGirl cannot come to her blog right now. She is too busy being a Wine Tycoon. She recognizes she will have to stop ragging on her Farmville-addicted friends because Wine Tycoon isn't very different. Or is it?

Review to come once all the grapes have been successfully killed off harvested.