Taittinger Le ReveA recent gathering of the not yet famous Occasional Wine Council took place at my house and our group tasted some exceptional wines. It’s always my hope that one or two of these might intrigue you enough for you to go check them out. When the group saw the $95 price tag on 2005 Le Rêve Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, they let out a collective gasp. After tasting it, however, almost everyone said they wouldn’t hesitate to buy it for a special occasion. This sparkler features a beautiful yeasty nose with delicate bubbles. It really excites your palate. When I heard sparkling wine, I thought smoked salmon with hard boiled egg, red onions and capers. It was a perfect match as was ceviche and brie with honey and walnuts. I flat out loved this one.

Shannon Ridge is a relative newcomer on the scene. We tasted the 2010 Ranch Collection Chardonnay from Lake County. I really enjoyed the nose on this one, with notes of tropical fruit, pear  and vanilla. This was an amazingly food friendly wine playing nicely with pizza, ceviche and a cheese I had the pleasure of introducing the group to, Le Délice de Bourgogne. An incredible triple creme, you can find it at Trader Joe’s. The wine sells for about $19.

JT Snow ThirstWhen Linda Kissam and I visited downtown Napa in December, we met Katie Hamilton Shaffer of Toolbox Wine Company. She was getting set to release her 2008 Thirst Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle features a beautiful pewter label and proceeds from the wine benefit the Jack and J.T. Snow Fund to help stop the progression of Wolfram Syndrome. This is a wonderful Cabernet with a nose of cherry cola. It’s beautifully balanced with soft tannins. I found it to be an elegant wine that paired very well with pizza and salami. The retail price is $48.

We returned to Shannon Ridge to taste their 2008 Ranch Collection Zinfandel. Scott provided grilled Portabella mushrooms to pair with this wine and again, it worked. I also enjoyed it with salami and cheddar, pizza and dark chocolate caramel. The wine smells like a Zin, jammy and fruit forward, but it’s not your typical “fruit bomb.” This wine was very approachable and is attractively priced at $19.

Finally we tasted the Quady 2010 Electra Red Muscat. Quady winery is in Madera, California with a focus on sweet wines. The Electra is quite sweet with a rose bouquet. The triple creme was a perfect pairing as were the graham crackers with cream cheese and raspberries. You’ll find this wine for around $21.

Next month the Men’s Wine Council will gather. Cheers!

Occasional Wine Council

Smoked SalmonLe Delice de Bourgogne