Viansa Winery and MarketPlace-“Bello Vino”

When I think of my experience at this amazing Winery, all I can say is, “BELLO VINO!”

Yes the award winning wines are incredible, but the entire experience at Viansa Winery and Marketplace was captivating from the moment we pulled up, to the moment we walked the grounds.  It felt as though we took a little vacation away to Tuscany.  Read the heartfelt story about how they saved and preserved THE WETLANDS surrounding the grounds saving animal and plant life.

We entered the beautiful tasting room that offers a generous tasting and Lorenzo was attentive and knowledgeable.  My experience with the tasting was wonderful and I found that these wines had exceptional flavor and smoothness to them.  After our tasting,  we ventured out on the patio that overlooks the breathtaking Sonoma Wine country  There they offer gourmet brick oven pizzas and a glass of wine for $15.00.  This is such a great deal for such a decadent experience.

THE REVIEW

The wine that I chose to review was the Reserve Pinot Noir 2010.  This wine surprised me a bit.  I usually really like a deeper, richer Pinot and even though it was a bit lighter,  it had beautiful cherry and floral notes, and then it hit me with a creamy, toasty taste, like Creme Brulee.  Super smooth and refreshing and not bitter.  I LOVED all of the reds but this one stood out.  Sexy and feminine!

We took a long lunch enjoying our girl time and taking in the beauty of the day.   We then went back inside THE MARKETPLACE where we tasted and bought some infused olive oil, and balsamic.  I bought the Pear Balsamic Vinegar, and the White truffle oil…YUMMO!!!  In addition to these there are many sweet gifts there and a cheese bar as well.  You can sample all of the specialty food items they have.  The olive oil is created from the olives grown right on site.  There are food and wine classes also available and wonderful events for TUSCAN CLUB MEMBERS to enjoy like a Crab feed, Annual Harbor cruise or Italian Festival.


We took a few pictures to preserve our memory but we will return for sure.

VIANSA is a gem and a MUST VISIT.   What a delighful place to experience a SONOMA WEDDING.

I feel this experience needs to be savored, cherished and fully enjoyed, so my suggestion is make it the last stop,  landing there for lunch after a day of wine tasting.   I also recommend it for a romantic date.  I plan on bringing my wonderful husband there soon.

Bello, Vino!

Cin, cin! SALUTE!

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Vezer Family Vineyard – Mankas Restaurant

In the Valley right near our home in Suisun there is little wine community with a handful of wineries, and one of our very favorites is VEZER FAMILY WINERY.   They make top notch wines and are considered superior in the valley.  We frequent both the VEZER tasting room, and THE BLUE VICTORIAN which is their sister winery just down the road housed in YES a cute little Blue Victorian nestled amongst the vines.

~The Blue Victorian~

One weekend my husband and I went wine tasting at Vezer and when they closed, Frank Vezer came into the tasting room and asked us to hang around and have a glass with him.  He asked us about our family and about ourselves and of course my husband told him about our music and said, “You should hear my wife sing.”  So of course I did and he had this idea of me working in the tasting room and singing while I pour wine for the customers.  I almost took the job but got busy during the summer and was unable. I was honored to be asked.

Vezer Family Vineyard-Photo by Kim Liew

Funny thing though that nearly a year later Frank and his lovely wife Liz opened a new restaurant next to their winery.  One day as I was alone having a glass of wine and reading a book out on their beautiful back deck Liz walked by to go into the barrel room.  I had never met her, but I somehow knew she was Franks wife.   We started talking and she took me over to see the new MANKAS Steak and Tapas Restaurant.  It was absolutely beautiful and everyone was rushing to get it finished.   I felt the excitement and asked if there was anything that I could do to help.   Well her husband  Frank was nearby and told her that I sing,  and I was asked to perform for the first private invitation opening.

I sang and and my Husband played ukulele.  We walked around serenading each individual table.  At the end of the evening I was honored to sing I’m In The Mood For Love for the Executive chef David Pajarillo and his girlfriend in honor of Valentines Day.  Before blessing the Mankas Corner with his culinary talents, Chef David worked as head chef at the Four Seasons in San Francisco, and worked with Michael Mina at AQUA in Las Vegas.

What a blessing for us to perform that night for such and exciting time for the VEZER family and their friends.  They made us feel like family too!

Mankas Corner Restaurant has a full bar with a incredible wine selection!   Check out their menu.

Ron Plunkett is the staff Sommelier and is on hand to help heighten your food and wine experience.  His resume is impressive including, last year being named the Sommelier of Comic-Con in San Diego.  He also served wine to the cast of Cowboys and Aliens, Twilight and numerous Movie and TV stars such as Billy Dee Williams and Katie Leclerc star of ABC Family’s Switched At Birth.  Most recently he appeared on TV with FOOD NETWORK star, Andrea Immer Robinson and the show, DAILY TASTINGS to be aired in the near future.

Roberto CromeyerGeneral Manager, born in El Salvador Central America.  He has worked in the food and beverage industry since finishing High School.  He has also worked for numerous Cruise ships, Cypress Club in San Francisco, Mondavi Winery, French Laundry and Don Giovanis in the Napa Valley.

Jo is the Bartender or mixologist if you will. (You won’t find THAT in the dictionary) and what she refers to as a LIBATION RELOCATIONIST.  Come in and let her explain just what that means.  Jo is friendly, knowledgeable and super innovative with mixed drinks and coffee creations.  She made me a Key Lime Pie Martini that was just as good as the real thing but in drink form.

                                                       I can’t leave until I do my little wine review.

La Salette Love

THE REVIEW

The wine I chose is VEZER LA SALETTE -A Sirah/Zinfandel blend.  This wine has a sexy nose that is just as pleasing as it’s taste with sweet cherry flavor and soft oak right out the gate.  It’s anise nuances and intense flavors last through a silky smooth finish.   The wine maker  Gary Galleron is known for his beautiful blends.  This is my absolute favorite!

Mankas Corner Steak House and Tapas has been compared to Rutherford Grill and Cole’s Chop House!  If it’s wine tasting, dining or both that you’re looking for. come to our little CORNER!  You will have a very lovely experience.

Cin, cin! SALUTE!!!

 

 

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Nashville Wine Diva

What is the definition of a diva? What comes to mind for me is a famous singer or entertainer, but in a single word one could sum it up to be a Prima Donna.   I have never thought of my self as such but suddenly had a change of heart when I found myself in Nashville Tennessee, in the middle of nowhere right by the airport, without a car.   Let me explain.     I made my way downstairs and asked the lady at the desk of the Hotel where I was staying if there was a place I could get a nice glass of wine.   She looked at me and smiled in a way that made me think that I must have had a look of desperation on my face.  She pointed to a hotel across the street and said,  “They have a bar over there.”

DebraLee Darling Diva

I stepped outside and made my way across the street in eager hopes that there might be a decent glass of wine in the cards.   I had my serious doubts as I walked in and spotted a very small bar that offered just a few selections of wine with what appeared to be generic labels.   The young gentleman behind the counter offered his help.   I just sighed and said, “I would like red wine please, I am from the Napa valley in California.”   YES I said that! Seriously who do I think that I am,  a celebrity that thinks if they throw out their name that a magical glass of glorious perfection might present itself from somewhere in the shadows? He looked at me and laughed saying,  “Just taste this I promise it won’t disappoint you.”

I was willing to give it my best shot and to my amazement  this Cabernet was absolutely wonderful.   This little experience taught me that INDEED I am a WINE DIVA.  Since that day I have been over several times and the young people that run this place have become my friends.  The young man that helped me the first night just finished school in Hotel management and knew quite a bit about wine.  Raj was his name and I also had the pleasure of meeting Nakia, Ian, Sasha, and Reggie .  They were all warm, friendly, and made me feel well taken care of.  The owners of this Hotel should be very proud of their staff.  In turn, anytime you see employees that are pleasant and helpful it is a direct result of they way they are taken care of by management and owners.   If you ever get a chance to visit Nashville and need a place to stay go visit  HYATT NASHVILLE AIRPORT

THE REVIEW
The wine which is worth writing about was created by  Michael Mondavi (Napa Valley) HAHA!  Yes I had to laugh!!! CANVAS – Wines Developed Exclusively for Hyatt Hotels:Cabernet Sauvignon – This Wine is smooth from start to finish with a slight sweetness, mellow tannins, and nuances of tobacco and cedar. Canvas also makes Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Pinot Grigio.

I was blessed to make new friends and find a pleasant glass of wine in an unlikely place.  Now if I could only fix the challenge I have with hotel coffee…..YUCK!!!!!!

Cin,Cin Salute!!!

 

 

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Wine Flights

What is a wine flight?

Wine didn’t grown wings and fly away…and no it’s not a new airline that offers wine tasting aboard.

Wine flights, or what are commonly referred to as a TASTING FLIGHT, are 3 or more generous tastes of wine in succession for the purpose of trying a variety in a certain year,  region, or varietal.   Flights are gaining popularity in many bars and restaurants.

Wine flights are a little different than a wine tasting in the sense that you get to choose the wines you want, and the amount of wine in your glass is a bit more generous than a usual tasting (approx. 3 ounces) and at a pretty good price too.    In addition, it gives you the ability to enjoy many different wines without drinking too many glasses and plastering yourself to the wall.

Recently at the Suisun Valley Wine Coop my husband and I were in a tasting room and were communicating our love for Zinfandel.   Kat, the wine steward was gracious enough to pull out 4 bottles of Zinfandel from the same vintner which was Sunset Cellars and we got the privilege of tasting a flight from four different harvest years.  It was amazing the difference in taste and subtle nuances of each wine.

Tasting Flights are a great way to compare different interpretations of the same varietal or different wine region.

It would be interesting to create a pairing flight to go with your 4 course meal starting with an aperitif before or during the appetizer, and then move to something to go with your soup and salad course, and so on finishing up with a sweet dessert wine at the end of the meal.

There are endless possibilities whether you have your flight already set up for you, or you create your very own.  Go and have fun with it!

Cin, Cin!  Salute!

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Is Aerating Over-rated?

What does it mean to let a wine breathe? In the biological sense, wine is not alive but the nurturing hands of a wine maker  might beg to differ.  Wine absorbs oxygen and then gives off carbon dioxide similar to humans.    Though it can’t reproduce, it can die very quickly if exposed to light, heat, movement, and even noise.  But what we are talking about here is something a bit different.   If you have ever heard of the term aerate, it simply means to let air get to your wine before you drink it.  WHY?

Letting air get to your wine for a period of time before drinking it can actually change the flavor of the wine for the better. Experts say that some young red varieties should breathe for 1 to 3 hours.   Now who in the heck is going to let their wine breathe that long when they are biting at the bit to pop open the bottle and drink it?  Personally, before I knew enough about wine, it was years before I understood what it meant to let wine breathe.  What you don’t know can’t hurt you right?   Not really. There is a significant difference in the wine flavor from the time it leaves the bottle, hits the glass, and then hits your mouth.

If you have doubts please do your own taste test. Even a few moments can make a big difference, but to completely let your wine breathe  helps the wine soften and the authentic flavor profiles to really come alive.    Some wines are perfect the moment you open them but wines that are high in tannins (usually young reds) are good candidates as the harshness softens quite considerably.    Some white wines can also benefit from aeration.

What are ways in which you can aerate a wine? Simply pour it in the wine glass and wait or decant it.   A decanter used to be thought of as just a beautiful glass bottle in which to display or serve the wine,  but there is a method to it’s madness.  The wide mouth of the decanter allows enough air to the wine to help it breathe better but again for a lengthy time.  It is a great way to let any sediment in the wine settle to the bottom so when you pour it you avoid it in your glass.

I personally recommend the VINTURI aerator.  It properly aerates your wine so it is perfect to drink the moment that it hits the glass.  No need to let it breathe.   Now THAT is what I am talking about!!!   These devises also remove any sediment left in the wine so you can drink every drop without filtering it.

So is aeration over-rated? I THINK NOT!   I have tried it every which way and I AM SOLD that aeration definitely works!   See for yourself and have some fun with it!!

Cin Cin!, Salute!

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Tasting With All Of The Senses

Tasting wine with all of the senses

Consider a glass of wine as a piece of ART.  A wonderful creation that is dictated by the land, the weather and location of the vine, the handling, aging, and even bottling of the product you are drinking. It has so much more meaning when you consider that one harvest year will be completely different from the next depending on so many factors. Wine tasting itself becomes more interesting and fun when you concentrate on the flavors in your mouth whether one stands out or a few. What you taste, may be different from what another person might taste and who is to say who is right and who is wrong?   Though I hope you would never taste such a taste in your glass,  if I say my wine has the taste of stinky socks who is to say that it’s not true?

Case in point, on a recent weekend away to Monterey, my husband and I were at a 5 star hotel and asked for a nice glass of Pinot Noir.  We received our glasses, we both took a sniff and agreed the nose on it (the smell) was pleasing.  Next was the first sip.  My first reaction was that I liked it, it was interesting enough.  I always take my second taste and really dig into what flavors are popping.  On this occasion, the taste in my glass was deceiving of the smell.  The berries that I smelled were not present, and the entire wine fell flat on flavor.  There was also a strong metal taste at the finish of the wine.  My husband said it tasted like what a public bathroom smells like.

It reminded him of those discs they put into the urinal to freshen them.  haha~  He laughed and called the wine “POTTY PINOT” Go figure!!  He also said, “Make a note of this one so we don’t make the mistake of buying it again.

When tasting wine, use all your senses to enjoy every nuance.

  • First look at the glass preferably next to a light colored wall so you get a true sense of the color, the richness and depth.  Can you see through it or is it slightly cloudy?
  • Put your nose into the glass and smell the wine. Any strong aromas around you will alter the taste of your wine.  A fire, strong food aromas, or even someones fragrance can interfere.  What aromas are present in your wine?   You might smell an earthy smell, fruit, grass, coffee, vanilla, chocolate etc.
  • Feel it in your mouth as you TASTE it. When it touches the front of your tongue.  The middle part of your tongue (Mid pallet) and how does it taste as you swallow it?  Is it hot?  Does it go down smoothly?  Do you taste sweet, sour, salty, bitterness at all?
  • Focus on the tastes and sensations as they change from the beginning to the end of each taste.   Realize that the nose and the tongue work together in this part.  You are actually tasting the smells and smelling the tastes simultaneously.

This is not rocket science and there is no need to be intimidated.   When you approach wine tasting with an open mind, and an adventurous spirit, it can be an enjoyable and delightful experience.

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Wine App for Apple iPhone – Hello Vino

Today we discovered a site and really cool application called “Hello Vino” for the iPhone.  Having just added it to ours, we’ve not had the pleasure of fully testing it out but we wanted to share it with you.

There’s not many apps for iPhone that provide this in depth of an experience that we’ve encountered. Hope you enjoy it, we think it’s really cool 🙂

If you have or know or a Wine App for the iPhone, please leave us a link in the comments so we can investigate it and give a review. We’re hoping the “Hello Vino” app will be all it’s graped up to be.

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Wine Pairing Suggestions

Here are some suggested pairings of wines and foods that we have found to be delightful.  While pairing wines with food is highly subjective and more a personal preference and pleasure, we’ll leave it up to you to see how we do.  These are just suggestions and recommendations and not considered to be facts you’d acquire from a wine critic or Sommelier.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – roasted or possibly grilled red meats
  • Chardonnay – fish and poultry, some cheeses, spicy food and nut sauces
  • Gamay – – rabbit, beef, shallots, sausages, pork roast, roast poultry, turkey, ham
  • Gewurztraminer – Asian cuisines and pork-based sausages
  • Grenache – herbed meatballs, roasted pheasant, corned beef
  • Merlot – roast duck, beef stew, most red meats
  • Nebbiolo – flavorful meats, cheeses, spicy Italian meats and aged Parmesan cheese
  • Pinot Noir -pork, pasts,fish stew, and Chinese food 
  • Petit Syrah – rich sausage, prime rib and grilled entrees
  • Riesling – duck, pork, and roast vegetables
  • Sangiovese – chicken, red meat, fish, lamb, pork, pastas, stews or aged cheeses
  • Sauvignon Blanc – fish and shellfish dishes
  • Syrah – red meat, pasta with meat sauce, venison 
  • Tempranillo – tapas, pork, grilled or roasted entrees
  • Zinfandel – red or white meat, fish tacos, spicy numbers or burgers

These are just some of our suggestions for a quick and easy reference when out and about dining and looking to pair a delightful wine with your meal.  We’d love to hear what you think and even better, what you suggest as a great pair for our readers dining experiences.

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Wine Valley Review Launches Website

Welcome to Wine Valley Review.com.  Your single resource for wine and winery reviews.  Find wine tips, links to great websites, videos, tutorials, wine information, history, and more.   We’re excited to be sharing our journey’s with you, please visit us regularly for updates and useful information.

We welcome your reviews, comments, and “grape ratings” on our reviews of wines and wineries that we’ve chosen to share.

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