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  • November 21, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

    Pacific Rim Riesling Picmonkey

    2009 Vin de Glacière Riesling


    Pacific Rim

    Columbia Valley (Washington)

    Alcohol: 9.% (approx.)

    Suggested Retail: $ 14 (375ml)


    “Too few Americans are unfamiliar with quality dessert wines. Some may have heard of Sauternes, which are made in the southwest of France from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes. They are very sweet and low in alcohol. A classic pairing is foie gras, but cheeses and fresh fruit are also good companions. (Apparently, some Brits are also unfamiliar with them, as author Ian Fleming once had his otherwise sophisticated spy character, James Bond, order a bottle of the most famous of these, Chateau d'Yquem, to accompany a steak). Germany also makes lovely dessert wines, mostly from Riesling grapes. That country doesn't get an abundance of sunshine and generally stratifies its wine definitions based on ascending levels of ripeness/sweetness. Among the most prized of German wine categories are Eisweins, which are made from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine. The resultant wines have a luscious, concentrated sweetness.

    “A variation on that naturally-occurring process are Vin de Glacière wines, which are made from grapes that are frozen after they're picked. Such is the way this week's selection was created. Riesling grapes from the Selenium Vineyard above the Columbia River in southeastern Washington state were the source of this delightful—and affordable—dessert wine. Wines of this style get better as they age and our 2009 was surely better for a few extra years in the bottle after it was released. Its color was a little darker than when it was new—a deeper, richer shade of gold. The aroma was floral, evoking pears, honey and a bit of apricot. In the mouth it's rich and viscous, without being cloying. Though about 18% residual sugar, good acidity keeps the freshness and 'brightness' of the overall experience. There are more pear, honey and apricot qualities in the finish.”

    Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed with ginger snaps after a German dinner of sauerbraten served with potato dumplings and red cabbage. More traditional options might include a creamy blue cheese or fresh fruit. Just on its own it would satisfy an after-dinner craving for something sweet, yet not too filling.”

  • Winners of the first Miljenko Grgich Scholarship visit Grgich Hills Estate

    Grgich Scholarship winners PicmonkeyCroatian winemaking students pose with Mike Grgich: From left: Daniel Božac, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Petra Balažić and Marina Šeparović. Daniel interned at Cakebread Cellars in Napa while Peta and Marina worked at Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles. Without the knowledge of the selection committee, Petra is also a niece of Ivo Jeramaz, Mike’s nephew and Vice President of Vineyards and Production for Grgich Hills.

    TASTE News Service November 21, 2014 – Winners of the Miljenko Grgich Scholarship Fund at the University of Zagreb in Croatia finally met their benefactor in the Legacy Room at Grgich Hills Estate on Tuesday.

    Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is a graduate of the University of Zagreb’s Department of Viticulture and Enology. In 2013 he donated one million dollars to establish an endowment fund with the Croatian Scholarship Fund in the United States that will provide scholarships to students in the master’s degree program at the University of Zagreb in viticulture and enology. His goal is to help educate future grape growers and winemakers in Croatia so that they may develop a world-class wine industry there. Additionally, the scholarship will provide financial assistance each year to a small number of students seeking internship at a winery in the United States.

    Mike Grgich describes his Scholarship Fund “as a way to allow me to say ‘thank you’ to those many people who helped me and at the same time help the next generation achieve their own dreams by starting a foundation for professional wine studies.”

    Located at 1829 St. Helena Hwy (Hwy. 29) in Rutherford, Grgich Hills Estate was founded in 1977 by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Austin Hills after the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike outscored the best of France in the now-famous 1976 Paris Tasting.

    Today, this iconic winery farms 366 acres naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and uses its passion and art to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. Mike is assisted by his daughter, Violet Grgich, Vice President of Operations, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, Vice President of Vineyards and Production. For more information, visit www.grgich.com.

    Editor's note: If you're planning a visit to the Napa Valley, you might first check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will links to the websites of all the Wineries, as well as links to hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options.

  • Consumer Reports Debunks Common Myths About Gluten


    TASTE News Service November 21, 2014 ― Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, has become the latest dietary villain, blamed for everything from forgetfulness to joint pain to weight gain.  But Consumer Reports is shedding light on common misconceptions about going gluten-free.

    The full report, “The Truth About Gluten,” is available online at ConsumerReports.org and in the January 2015 issue of Consumer Reports, which hits newsstands next week.

    The report points out that a gluten-free claim doesn’t mean the product is necessarily more nutritious, it may actually be less so; that consumers may increase their exposure to arsenic by going gluten-free, and a gluten-free diet might cause weight gain—not weight loss. And, most gluten-free foods cost more than their regular counterparts.

    Still, a new survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that about a third of people buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten.  Among the top benefits they cited were better digestion and gastrointestinal function, healthy weight loss, increased energy, lower cholesterol, and a stronger immune system. 

    “While people may feel better on a gluten-free diet, there is little evidence to support that their improved health is related to the elimination of gluten from their diet,” said Trisha Calvo, deputy content editor, health and food, at Consumer Reports.  “Before you decide to ride the wave of this dietary trend, consider why it might not be a good idea.”

    The Truth About Gluten

    Unless someone has a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease – an autoimmune condition in which gluten causes potentially life-threatening intestinal damage – Consumer Reports says there is little reason to eliminate gluten, and doing so may actually be a disservice to one’s health.  Less than seven percent of Americans have these conditions.

    A quarter of the people CR surveyed thought gluten-free foods have more vitamins and minerals than other foods. But CR’s review of 81 products free of gluten across 12 categories revealed they’re a mixed bag in terms of nutrition.  Many gluten-free foods aren’t enriched or fortified with nutrients such as folic acid and iron as many products that contain wheat flours are.

    And according to CR’s survey, more than a third of Americans think that going gluten-free will help them slim down, but there’s very little evidence that doing so is a good weight-loss strategy; in fact, the opposite is often true. Ditching gluten often means adding sugar, fat, and sodium, which are often used to pump up the flavor in these foods; these foods also might have more calories and consuming them could cause some people to gain weight.

    What Consumers Can Do

    For those who must cut out gluten, Consumer Reports recommends doing so in a healthy way and has some suggestions on how to do so below:

    1. Eat grains.  For those on a gluten-free diet or not, eating a variety of grains is healthy, so don’t cut out whole grains.  Replace wheat with amaranth, corn, millet quinoa, teff, and the occasional serving of rice.

    2. Shop the grocery store perimeter.  Stick with naturally gluten-free whole foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meat and poultry, fish, most dairy, legumes, some grains, and nuts.

    3. Read the label. Minimize the intake of packaged foods made with refined rice or potato flours; choose those with no-gluten, non-rice whole grains instead.  When buying processed foods, keep an eye on the sugar, fat, and sodium content of the product.

    Consumer Reports’ full report on gluten also features a list of a dozen gluten- and rice-free foods that passed taste-tests, but cautions consumers to be mindful of nutrition.

    Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.

  • November 14, 2014 Beer Pick of the Week

    New Belgium 1554 Picmonkey

    New Belgium 1554


    New Belgium Brewing Co

    Ft. Collins, Colorado

    Style: Black Ale

    Alcohol: 5.6%

    IBUs: 21

    Serving Style: 12-ounce bottles

    Availability: Nationwide


    Appearance:  “I like the color. There's a little light to it. It's not black, but it's down there. No a big head like Guinness some beers of similar color.”

    Aroma:  “It has a light nose than I would have expected. Enticing, 'smooth' smell lets you know it will be a little softer.”

    Taste:  “Very flavorful, but not slap-you-in-the-head. A bit of chocolate in the finish.”

    Food Affinity:  “Would be at home with sandwich fare—a French Dip or a good ham and cheese.”

    RST Nov 2014 Picmonkey


    Reviewer Ray Thompson is a retired lawyer in Sacramento (and played on the wing for Dartmouth and the Sacramento Old Boys)