Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Patio Party Pleasers!

This time of year as I walk my favorite wine seekers around the department showing them the newest and latest in the wine world, I start to get the sideways look and comment, “Maybe some whites?”  Everyone is more than ready for the weather to break, roll out the patio furniture, sit back and enjoy the summer with their favorite cooling and refreshing white wines. Here are some of my favorites!

New Age White Blend, Mendoza, Argentina $8.99 –

A definite summer favorite, the New Age is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat.  The Muscat gives the wine a touch of sweetness while the Sauvignon Blanc keeps it bright and refreshing.  The wine maker for New Age recommends serving the wine with a splash of lemon, lime, and club soda for a refreshing spritzer!

Mezza Corona Pinot Grigio 2009, Vignetti Delle Dolomiti, Italy $8.99 –

This is one of my “go to” Pinot Grigios.  On the nose: kiwi, lime, and green apple that all follows through on the palate. A cleansing finish lends itself to summer picnic salads like our new Creamy Gemelli Pasta Salad.

St. Kilda Chardonnay South Eastern, Australia $9.99 –

Last year Wine Spectator gave St. Kilda Best Value for its 2009 Chardonnay and I couldn’t agree more.  On the fruity side of Chardonnay, this Aussie is ripe with peach, apple, melon, a great pairing for fried chicken.

Three Pears Pinot Gris 2010, California $10.99 –

The folks at Mason Cellars brought us Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, and on the coattails of that success have ventured out to make a new Pinot Gris called Three Pears.  Now if you have never had Pinot Gris, this is a very nice one, but not necessarily classic.  Many Pinot Gris do have Pear nuances, but this takes it to a new level. Bartlett Pears jump from the glass while on the palate; there is a juicy quality with nice minerality.

Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Mendicino California $17.99 –

I have been blown away by the layering, complexity, and affordability of the Elizabeth Spencer Wines.  I have tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.99) and now the Sauvignon Blanc and would put them up against any wine that sold twenty dollars more. This wine has the grapefruit that you might expect from Sauv Blanc, but it is a lighter and sweeter ruby red Grapefruit flavor than the archetypical New Zealand, with their “kick you in the teeth” acidity. Smells of summer like apple blossom, fresh cut grass and citrus on the nose with white peaches, nectarines and just a hint of slate on the finish, this wine is a showstopper.

So this summer, keep cool with these refreshing food-friendly crowd pleasers!


– Jennifer Laurie

Easter Wines

Walk into any of our stores right now and you’re hit with the abundant fragrance of our Easter Lilies.  Our Floral Departments are covering the stores with bright, beautiful, April flowers and, though there is still snow in the forecast, it reminds me that Spring is in full bloom. Easter is less than a week away and everyone is looking forward to sitting down with friends and family to enjoy the traditional Ham or Lamb. In my family we enjoy both, which makes my job a little difficult.  Do I bring a zippy light bodied Gewurztraminer for the ham? Or a fruit forward, robust, red for the Lamb?

Who am I kidding? I’ll bring both…

Here are my picks for whichever meat you choose!

Hamming it up –

I love the salty sweetness of ham; it’s the Kettlecorn of the meat world. Whether you like red or white I would stay on the fruity side when pairing this pink meat.

Alexander Valley Vineyards Gewurz Gewurztraminer California, 2010 $8.99 –

Poor Gewürztraminer, I believe this grape does not get requested as much as it should because of its tongue tying name. However, when it comes to pairing with Ham it is a must! The Gewurz has the customary lychee, pear and spice, but it’s not nearly as sweet as most others.  The fruity front palate and dry, refreshing finish makes this wine unique – and it’s so affordable!

Saint Roch Les Vignes Rosé Cotes De Provence, 2009 $14.99 –

Rose is another option if you like fruity but not too sweet.  This is a light, fruity, Provence with rose petal on the nose and strawberry and red raspberry on the palate. Refreshing and bright, it is the perfect palate cleanser.

Wild Horse Pinot Noir Central Coast California, 2008 $24.99 –

Fresh and fruity, this Pinot Noir is dense and big enough for your “red wine drinkers” but light enough to pair with ham. Black cherry, baking spices, and a hint of toasted oak round out the finish.

Jenny had a little Lamb –

When my folks prepare lamb they use fragrant and bold spices and seasonings like rosemary and garlic. When pairing lamb, I like to play up the rustic taste and texture of the meat.

Juliet Fiero Chardonnay Paso Robles California, 2009 $14.99 –

Only 224 cases of this little gem of a Chardonnay were produced. The Juliet Fiero is complex and medium bodied, with loads of ripe pear and apple.  The acidity is bracing to cut through the sometimes oily quality of lamb, but round enough with its touches of lemon curd and butterscotch, to pair well.

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes De Bila – Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2008 $13.99 –

Lamb and Cotes du Rhone is a classic pair. Both have an earthy, rustic quality.  In the case of the Chapoutier, I like the notes of lilac, black cherry and plum that are elegant yet firm in structure. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan and was one of Wine Spectators Top 100 wines of 2009.

Falesco Merlot Umbria Italy 2009 $14.99 –

Saving the best for last, Nino’s has kept the Falesco Merlot on special down from its original pricing at $18.99 because it is such a great value.  Falesco has produced a concentrated and ripe Merlot, with black plum, blueberry, and blackberry, finishing with herbs and a touch of cinnamon. This is a knock out.

So, whether you’re trying out Chef Pete’s new Crusted Red Skin Potato Bake with Ham and Cheese or having a more traditional fare, these wines will make your Easter meal complete!


– Jennifer Laurie

Wine, Beer & Spirits: Halloween Party Must Haves!

If, like me, you pull out all the stops for Halloween, you have to be up to date on all the best beverages for your Halloween Party.  Here are my picks for a party so fun it’s scary!


Bogle Phantom Proprietary Red Blend 2007 $18.99 – Like Brigadoon, this Autumnal favorite is visible only once a year and it is like nothing you’ve ever tasted! A blend of Petit Sirah, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Old Vine Mourvedre, Phantom is ripe and luscious with loads of blackberry, coffee and chocolate notes. As it says right on the bottle this wine is mysterious and naughtily seductive.

Ghost Pines Merlot 2007 $19.99 – Named by the Martini family in 1964 for the ethereal gray pines that grow along the coastal valleys of California, this Merlot is elegant and well balanced.  My recommendation for a “go to” crowd pleaser, the Ghost Pines Merlot has cherry and ripe berry flavors with a long finish of baking spices.

Ghost Pines Chardonnay 2007 $19.99 – Floral and fruity on the nose this Chardonnay is creamy with citrusy, lemon curd flavors. A perfect pairing for sweet jumbo sea scallops or a baked brie tart.

Cline Viognier 2009 $10.99 – Parties are always a great opportunity to introduce your guest to something new.  Viognier is a perfumed and peachy white wine that Cline does a tremendous job with!  I picked this particular bottle for the approachable, fruity, food friendly quality, and the black and orange label.

Leelanau Cellars Witches Brew $6.99 – Support Michigan’s economy by buying this fun spiced wine from Leelanau. Flavors of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg add bewitching flavor to this fruity red.  Warmed up Witches Brew is perfect for adult trick or treaters coming in from the cold!


Hard Luck Candy Flavored Vodka Root Beer Barrel and Red Fish $20.96 –

If Halloween is about anything other than being scared, it’s about CANDY!  And the team over at Hard Luck Candy in Detroit has perfected turning the classic candies Root Beer Barrel and Swedish Fish into 70 proof flavored vodkas. Enjoy them as shooters or have an adult root beer float by pouring the Root Beer Barrel over ice cream!  Go to their website for more recipes! www.hardluckvodkamichigan.com

Crystal Head Vodka $49.99

Created by Ghostbusters actor Dan Ackroyd, this striking package holds very excellent vodka.  Quadruple distilled and then triple filtered through Herkimer Diamonds – thought to have energizing powers – this is a good vodka for sipping. The vodka is smooth, clean and slightly sweet on the finish. Be sure to pick up the limited gift set with two skull shaped shot glasses! www.crystalheadvodka.com

Lucid Absinthe $59.99 –

That’s right! Absinthe, it is legal again! Lucid is slightly sweet and packs a wallop of anis flavor.  When appropriately blended with sugar and water the green liquid turns milky white. The perfect conversation starter! www.drinklucid.com


Sam Adams Oktoberfest $8.99 – Although most of our Oktoberfest beers are gone, we have a limited supply of this medium bodied, very drinkable beer.  Spicy and rich but not too heavy this beer is a party pleaser.

Magner’s Hard Cider $11.99 – Light and refreshing, this hard cider is not as sweet as some other ciders which makes it more drinkable. It has just a hint of apple with a crisp finish.

North Peak Diabolical IPA $10.49 – This India Pale Ale made in Traverse City is perfect for the Hop Heads in your life. Spicy and floral, the Diabolical is a tasty alternative to Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ales.

Cheers to Halloween and having a ghoulish good time!

– Jennifer Laurie

Value Wines: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

Acacia Chardonnay  2008

<PRE>Acacia Vineyard Chardonnay Carneros 07</PRE>
Those of you who chat about wine with me know that I tend to like a crisp refreshing white wine as opposed to a rich, silky, bold white.  A couple of nights ago I tried the 2008 Acacia Chardonnay and wow.  Talk about a game changer! Upon first sip I was not thrilled, the wine seemed a little too acidic and over blown.  However, as the bottle opened up, the flavors of crème Brule, ripe mango, and buttery, rich toffee unveiled themselves. Very silky in the mid-palate, the finish still had nice acidity that would complement a
rich lobster or scallop dish.
To be honest, this is not your everyday Chardonnay.  It’s the classic California style that so many in recent years have shied away from – myself included.  The Acacia, however, made me remember how very versatile chardonnay can be, and has me craving for my next butter ball chard!

Reg. $24.99
Now $21.99

Acacia Pinot Noir 2007

<PRE>Acacia Vineyard Pinot Noir Carneros 07</PRE>

I had high hopes for this bottle after I tasted the chardonnay.  Like the chardonnay, this wine changed dramatically after being allowed to breathe for a bit.  When first opened, it was nothing special.  Light cherry and strawberry fruit, good acidity.  So, hoping to coax a bit more out of it, I let the wine sit and took sips approximately every 15 minutes. Boy, did this bottle bloom!  Toasty oak and ripe strawberry jam with touches of earthy forest floor developed.  The acid became more rounded, making this wine great for grilled salmon or a hearty lamb stew.  Remember, if you want to get the most from this gem, give it about an hour to open up.  You won’t be sorry.

Reg. $32.99

Now $21.99

– Jennifer Laurie