Though some romantics say “every day is Valentine’s Day,” February 14th is that special time designated to celebrate the love we have for family and friends….and more importantly, the pairing of wine and chocolate! If you are in the mood for unique wine gifts or just a lovely varietal options, here are a few suggestions. Happily, some were sent to me for publication consideration….some I just love!
Napa’s Sequoia Grove has a special chocolate lovers Valentine’s special which includes their rich, cherry, chocolate and cola filled Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with bottle of Cabernet Chocolate Sauce, a jar of Merlot Chocolate Fudge and a copy of “The Little Book of Chocolates.” I had this wine last week with a flour-less chocolate cake and strawberries, sinful, purely sinful….. The gift pack is available for $50.
Willamette Valley’s Domaine Serene has a special gift set of their award winning 2006 Evanstad Reserve Pinot Noir (named for the winery owners), the 2007 Clos du Soleil Chardonnay, beautifully boxed and each paired with 18 pieces of artisan chocolate; 9 pieces of orange cardamom to pair with Clos du Soleil Chardonnay and 9 pieces of Rose hips and berries to pair with the Evenstad Reserve from Xocolatl by David, one of Portland’s most exciting chocolatiers. Shipping is free through Feb 9.
One of my favorite local wineries is Times Ten Cellars, and through February they have the Times Ten Rose on sale for $6.99 a bottle!!! This Spanish style Rose is berry filled, crisp, dry and tasty, in the perfect color to put you in the mood for love. Stop in for a bottle on Valentine’s day and hear jazz provided by the Rich Jasin Trio from 4-7pm.
Terre Rouge has a special 6 pack set of wine sure to put your sweetie in the mood, including their 2007 Terre Rouge “Enigma” a white blend of Marsanne, Viognier, and Roussanne varietals traditionally grown in the Rhone region of France, but done just as lovingly by Bill Easton and his team in California’s Sierra foothills. Also included is the 2006 Terre Rouge Tête-à-Tête, or “romantic interlude” is a blend with 56% Syrah, along with Mourvèdre and Grenache, along with four more of Terre Rouge wines to ensure love will be in the air, specially priced for the holiday.
Bubbles are appropriate for a special day, and Rose bubbles are even better for Valentines. Freixenet makes the Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut of 85% Pinot Noir with 15% Trepat, creating a bright, blackberry and raspberry fruit filled sparkler with a lingering palate and great price point.
Miner Stagecoach Merlot – I said at the beginning of this year I wanted to drink more Merlot, as I used to love it and haven’t enjoyed Merlot as much in recent years. In the world of Merlot, the Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard is a great one to indulge in. Filled with ripe fruit, sweet spice and a lovely finish with nutty undertones from 21 months of aging, half in new French oak, Miner does not disappoint.
Trinchero ChickenRanch Merlot – I did a tasting with the winemaker of a select group of single vineyard varietals produced by one of Napa’s oldest families. The Chicken Ranch Merlot was one of my favorites from an organic vineyard on the Rutherford floor in Napa. Subtle aromas of cherry, herbs and cedar, with bold berry, cherry and leather notes. This is a lovely Merlot produced from 28 year old Rutherford vines.
Pair a fresh, fruit forward Pinot Noir from Vision Cellars with incredible chocolate from Garrison Confections. Mac MacDonald’s hands off approach in his wine making let the beauty of the fruit shine in juice from some of California’s best vineyards, including Gary’s and Las Alturas; Andrew Shotts is a chocolate master, creating chocolate bonbons with decadent combinations. The “Legendary Lover’s Collection” includes a unique mix, includingstrawberry with basil on milk chocolate ganache, or blood orange, Cointreau and milk chocolate.
Or, take your sweetheart to a special night dedicated to the heart. April 9th is the Grand Tasting for the American Heart Association’s Côtes du Coeur. Leading up to this important (and fantastic) night there are various pre-events, including the Chef Announcement Party on February 21 to announce and welcome the celebrity chefs invited to this year’s Gala. The event will be held at Milestone Culinary Arts.