Beaujolais Nouveau Day – A French Party Wine

Beaujolais Nouveau is a French wine noted for being young, fruity, and pairable. Following Old World technique handpicked Gamay grapes support the production of 65 million bottles from the namesake French region. The Beaujolais region is north of Lyon with encroachments into the Burgundy and Rhone regions. The region has been producing Beaujolais since the Roman occupation in the 7th century and peaked after the Black Death in the 14th century. It wasn’t until the 1950s when Beaujolais made a comeback.

The Gamay grape undergoes carbonic maceration – a winemaking technique that promotes softer tannins on soft-skinned varietals. Essentially the grapes are introduced into a vessel where oxygen is limited and carbon dioxide is aplenty. Grapes are not machine pressed but, are crushed under their own weight. Resulting in a slower release of sugars which keep the yeast colonies fat and happy for a longer fermentation period. The grapes are racked into barrels to age for up to two months. Making Beaujolias some of the youngest palatable wine.

Undated French Poster promoting Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

The allure of a Beaujolais happens to be more than taste but, the amount of extravagant partying that ignites behind its production. Leave it to the French to dedicate a seemingly random day to eat, drink, and be merry. Beginning in the 1950’s winemakers started competing to see who could release the young wine first. According to French law, a new wine vintage can be released on the third Thursday in November. Many wineries would take advantage of Thanksgiving’s proximity to Beaujolais Day to market heavily to Americans. I even read in an article by the Smithsonian that vintners would ride elephants into Paris to create a spectacle. Today, the third Thursday in November includes fireworks, food, live music, and hundreds of bottles of Beaujolais!

Guess what? Dodici offers a stunning example from Chenas. Domaine Saint Cyr is a fourth-generation winemaker. The current winemaker Raphael Saint-Cyr made steps to convert his vineyard to all organic after his grandfather and uncle became sick from viticultural chemicals. Our offering has an ABV of 12% and strong notes of red fruit like raspberries or strawberries. Beaujolais is quite earthy, I almost taste a minerally potting soil with black pepper on the nose.

As for pairing: right away I would pick the meat & cheese board to start or a sweet strawberry burrata! For pizza, I would pair with the Dottore or Fresca Due (don’t forget to add figs). For a very savory pair, I would order the Sweet Sting or the cheesy Maestro. For dessert: Brandon’s Tiramisu cheesecake or the Cannolis.

What Wine Would You Drink on a Deserted Island?

I was reading through Wine Spectator’s blog and came across a post that asked high-level sommeliers this question: If you were stranded on a desert island and could pick three wines to bring with you to drink for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Some of them chose practically, simply choosing what they liked. Others considered wine pairings with their new tropical diets. The Som’s picks painted an oyster-shucking, mango-munching good time from zesty Chablis, tear-jerking Burgandy Pinot Noirs to Napa Chards.

My Picks:

My White Wine pick would be an Arizona Albarino from Cellar 433. You could almost taste the prickle of pineapple and there was a highly herbal basil note on the nose. With an ABV of 14% this bright acid, high alcohol wine would be the perfect tropical accompaniment to any deserted island dish I could come up with. Pairing beautifully with white fish, mussels, or fruit salads.

Purchase here from Winery 1912

You guessed it: Hito Rosado. My rose favorite. This Spanish beauty is a Tempranillo rose with an earthy feel and notes of red fruits like raspberries. Hito is complex but, highly drinkable. Would pair well with various seafood as well as nuts, berries, and other fruits!

Make your reservations at Dodici to try this Rose!

As for a red wine. I’m not sure I’ve found the red I’d like to spend the rest of my life with. Maybe a Tempranillo? A French Malbec? A Napa Cab is always a solid option. In this moment I’m exploring the versatility of Pinot Noir, so maybe a Willamette Valley?

Here Is What You Said:

I thought it would be fun to ask you all the same question: If YOU were stranded on a desert island and could pick three wines to bring with you to drink for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Had a lot of good answers to the Instagram post!

Instagram User: @queserasarah520
Our Friends over @warbler.coffee!
Instagram User: @runningtoheal_

Instagram User: @usual_unusual

Some of us trashed the idea of wine altogether:

Instagram User: @luisitoestil

Wachau Valley – A Quaint Wine Region in Austria!

Today we will be leaving Brownsville temporarily and highlighting a little known but, prolific grape region in Austria. I traveled to the Wachau Valley in 2017 and can’t stop thinking about the vineyards! The valley is brimming with carefully terraced vineyards aging back as far as 800AD. Their terrace style is considered ‘dry’ so, no mortar was used in their stone walls. This saves the silty soil from erosion and convection keeps roots warm in brutal winters. The slopes of the winding Danube has produced a niche spot for growing Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Grüner Veltliner.

The UNESCO cultural landscape Wachau Valley pronounced ‘Vah-how’ not ‘Watch-choo’ is the largest producer of local white wines in Austria. The area produces predominantly Rieslings which profiles apple, peach, and pear but is delightfully crisp and the younger features are slightly effervescent. Rieslings used to be the exception to my ‘no white wine’ rule. Which in the past I’ve chalked up to being too cool. Ultimately, I was being a wine snob. The Wachau Valley extends for approximately thirty kilometers framing the Danube River. There is a mix of ancient behemoths and present construction that stick out fantastically from the terraced hillsides.

Okay. Picture this:

A guided day of biking – fourteen miles sampling from winery to winery, schnitzel and immersing with the locals. I’m sure I previewed heaven and I approve of what I saw.

What I found amazing was that the community pubs that rotated according to their wine supply. Each family owned pub would be responsible to host as each vineyard became ripe! The pub I sampled from was up in the hills and overlooked the Danube. It was a welcome reward after a tough cycling session.

Now Dodici does lack an Austrian wine representation. However, get in the mood with our Marine Dubard Sauvignon Blanc! Dubard is crisp, citrusy and chalky just like the wines I tasted in Austria. Sauvignon Blanc is flavorful yet delicate on the palate so I would suggest sticking to salads, particularly the Arugula salad. The Fresca Due, Scampi, and Maestro pizzas will pair nicely. I would avoid anything too meaty as you will loose the complexity.

Where was your favorite wine experience!?

Why You Need To Try Volcanic Wine Right Now

Most grape varietals thrive in a loose draining, mix of sand and silt. Roots which can extend beyond three feet of earth are ideal for the perfect vineyard location. Complex flavors and aromas can develop the deeper the roots reach. Elements present like basalt, pumice, and volcanic alluvium preserve minerals producing acidity, brightness and intense textures. Volcanic terroirs offer a mineral laden, porous sweet spot for grapes to grow. However, there are only a few special regions where the magic happens.

Where are some of these places?

  • Many locations in California such as Sonoma and wine mecca Napa Valley boast ancient volcanic pockets.
  • Willamette Valley in Oregon.
  • My home in central Arizona, Yavapai county is bursting with new wineries thriving in basalt rich geology.
  • Mt. Etna in Sicily, regions in Naples which felt the heat of Mt. Vesuvius.
  • Santorini in Greece
  • The Canary Island off the coast of Africa.
  • The Azores in Portugal.
  • Chile’s Maule and Colchagua Valleys.
  • Somlo, Hungary.

My favorite volcanic region is Mt. Etna in Italy. The kicker here is that the volcano is still active! In fact, according to a volcano tracker Mt. Etna was spewing lava just yesterday … September 21, 2021. The famous winery Pietradolce produces beautiful wines and grows their grapes on the north slopes of the very volcano. Pietradolce only grows native vitis vinifera Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Catarratto. Similar to Pinot Noir, light Cabernet, and Pinot Grigio respectively. Pietradolce preaches sustainable cultivation of the land and thrive on rich Italian traditions. A winery calling home at the foot of a volcano – I understand working with nature rather than against it!

Here is the good news: you can try Pietradolce Rosè and Rosso here at Dodici! I suggest pairing the two high acid wines with a creamy dish. Think the Dottore, Fresca Due, or Maestro! The Meat & Cheese board is always a good option or even the earthy chèvre beet salad. The Rosè has been described as an adult Rosè because of it’s complex berry flavors and minerality. The Rosso is complex in it’s own nature featuring bright cherries and cocoa.

Don’t forget to make your reservation at Dodici today!

5 Wine Tasting Steps for an Amazing Experience

See – Swirl – Sniff – Sip – Savor

The 5’s of wine tasting should merely be regarded as an outline. While each step is important sometimes you have to gather information at your own pace. It has been made to seem that tasting rules are rigid and must be done a certain way. As a veteran tasting room host I can say that it is heartbreaking to witness guests stress over outdated winery etiquette. You should feel comfortable and there is no correct answer to your sensory experience. A star tasting room host should be able to talk about the wine being served while allowing guests to come up with their own creative descriptors.

See – observing the tones and hues of wine are helpful while gathering information on alcohol content and identifying a varietal. Classically Chardonnay is straw or golden hued while, Syrah is a beautiful inky purple. Wine legs are common specifically to sugar content – not to show quality of wine.

Swirl – the big pro gesture is to swirl wine before taking a sip. Why? Oxygen transforms the aromas and flavors in wine through the process of oxidation. Oxygen during the aging process is limited so after it is introduced the wine is allowed to ‘open up’. Quality wine, usually red will take on a different composition after resting in an open bottle or decanter.

Sniff – the olfactory system (your nose) is a powerful way to gather information. Smell is linked to taste and adds aromas that you may not find when you taste. A Chenin Blanc from California will undoubtably produce a sea spray essence. A fortified wine, like a port, will give off a rich chocolate aroma!

Sip – the best part. Wine truly uses its own language. There should be a thesaurus dedicated to how wine vernacular can change the way you perceive taste! Chewy, round, brilliant, or clacky are all adjectives to describe the presence of tannins and acid. The words are difficult to imaging without a glass in your hand. But, after you sip a high tannin Malbec and your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth – clacky – suddenly makes sense. There is a basic outline of what the varietal should taste like as agreed on by the winemaker. It is subjective. Tasting orange blossom for one could be honeysuckle for another while, citrus could wander into tropical.

Savor – sit back and reflect on all of the notes that have been presented by the grapes. Sometimes tasting works through the power of suggestion. A pineapple is tangy, sticky, and tropical. Picture in your mind tasting a pineapple then take a sip of a tropical Pinot Grigio.

Most importantly enjoy. Relax. And come see us at Dodici on 12th and Adams!

5 Dodici Dishes to Pair With Bubbly

One of my instructors swore up and down that you could pair ANYTHING with a sparking wine. As a veteran bubbly drinker I can attest. From fried chicken to caviar to Molcajete – you cant go wrong. Another cant-go-wrong wine pair is a rosè but, I feel like I’ve beaten that horse for the last several posts. Sparkling wine comes in many variations. When it comes to pairing with a meal stick to Brüt, Prosecco, or a classic Champagne. These effervescent wines offer high acidity, an element of sweetness and enough flavor to stand up against a steak!

Where do these lovely bubbles come from? Winemakers add bubbly through a secondary fermentation process. Following initial fermentation yeast and sugar is added to already bottled classic varietals like Chardonnay, Muscat and Pinot Meunier to create carbon dioxide. The bottles are then stored upside down to ease removal of dead yeast cells (lees). After the wine is disgorged (removal of lees) the bottle is corked!

Fun Fact: the amount of pressure in a Champagne bottle is equivalent to approximately 90 PSI. That’s more than double the amount of pressure in a standard car tire!

Dodici’s Prosecco offering! Purchase by bottle or enjoy a glass.

Dodici’s bubbly offering is Benaccetto Prosecco from Italy. The wine has a pleasant straw color and has delicate yet sturdy citrus notes. Here are 5 Dodici Dishes to Pair With Bubbly:

1. The Beet Salad – effervescent citrus will elevate earthy beets, peppery arugula and the creamy chèvre. Bonus: the homemade Green Goddess dressing will knock your socks off!

2. Grandma’s Meatballs – creamy provolone will aid the Prosecco in balancing acidic tomato sauce and savory meat.

3. Inferno – this pizza is spicy! However, the combination of Oaxaca cheese and citrus will only elevate the hot homemade salsa.

4. Scampi – delicate shrimp, tangy sweet peppers and spicy garlic are all elevated by the high acid Prosecco.

5. Christyn’s Double Layer Cheese Cake add Strawberries – to finish dinner off I cant think of a better dessert. Creamy cheese cake, tangy double layer, and sweet, sweet strawberries. This is a classic Prosecco pairing and you wont be disappointed!

Comment your favorite bubbly combinations!!

Cellar Spotlight: Orin Swift

Most winemakers in the industry have personalities as bold as their wine. Dave Phinney founder of Orin Swift is surely an Alchemist. His wine is made methodically in a traditional style. I watched a few interviews on Orin Swift’s Instagram to try and get to know the cellar. I couldn’t help but smile at the giant (truly monstrous) Rancid poster followed by a collage of black & white badasses. He established Orin Swift in 1998 with the names sake as an homage to his parents. Dave’s story is succinct. He fell in love with wine while in Italy followed by a stint at Robert Mondovi in California – Orin Swift was born.

Dave Phinney hit it big with two flagship blends Mercury Head and the Prisoner. Yes, THE prisoner which we also sell at Dodici. However the trade secret is currently owned by the Prisoner Wine Company. Despite not owning a vineyard Phinney utilizes numerous blending grapes from around Napa. Today there are several blends worth checking out.

What I love most about this brand is everything ties together. The imagery on the bottle sets the tone and the wine is pleasing to the palate. Balance your evening out with bold, bougie food – good times just happen.

Dodici’s Orin Swift offering.

Our first Orin Swift feature is a Chardonnay called Mannequin. This is just a badass wine. The bottle is elegant, the label is edgy and the wine is beautiful. The pour is a golden straw color with an ABV of 15.2% so, it packs a punch but, is balanced with intimate florals and a citrusy zest. On the palate you will taste silky caramel thanks to the French oak barrels with notes of peach and pineapple. Mannequin will pair best with Dodici’s peach caprese, spinach & artichoke dip, or the arugula salad. Since Mannequin is so bright I would choose the Scampi, Funguy or the Maestro as the perfect accompaniment!

I never had a problem calling a wine jammy. To me, jammy combines a sweetness with a lip-puckering, almost sour finish. Our next Orin Swift offering – Machete is the perfect wine for a Petite Syrah fan. The wine is a stunning violet hue. As it opens up the nose is greeted with hints of plum, espresso, and black pepper. The ABV on this heavy hitter is 16.1% which allows the drinker to experience bright acidity. Due to the bold nature of Machete I would consider pairing this wine with sweet. As always the Meat & Cheese board is simple decision. Pizzas like the Maestro, Dottore and Fresca Due (pro tip add figs and balsamic drizzle) will elevate the Petite Syrah’s fruity nature. I would not recommend pairing this wine with a red sauce dish. Machete’s high acidity and tomato wont quite balance each other out.

Lastly, Dodici offers Orin Swift’s Mercury Head at $150 a bottle. Do not let the price drive you off from this studly wine. The bottle simply emblazoned with an early 20th century Mercury Head dime piece. Hence the name. The wine is a classic Napa Valley style Cab. Be prepared for rich tobacco, chocolate, and leather aromatics accompanied by blueberry, dark berries and caramel. The ABV listed on the wine fact sheet is 16.1% – another sky high alcohol content but, again balanced with brightness and tannins. Since Mercury Head is such a show stopper I would plan to savor it over the course of your Dodici dining experience. I would start with an earthy beet salad, a simple yet savory Classico or Mia Margarita and finish with decadent chocolate chip cannoli.

Have you tried any Orin Swift wines? Make your reservations at Dodici today.

*All Orin Swift information was taken from Orin Swift websites, wine spec sheets and their Instagram*

New World Vs. Old World Wine

Two buzzwords commonly found in wine descriptions is ‘Old World’ or ‘New World’. What does that even mean? In a broad definition: Old & New World wine simply refers to where their respective winemaking techniques were originated. There are certain styles utilized to create our magic grape juice, but ultimately has more to do with region and what the French call terroir – not terror.

Terroir: dictated properties that are unique to a specific region. Down to minerals, elevation, climate and soil properties.

According to a National Geographic article I found the earliest evidence of vitis vinifera (grapes) cultivation comes from Tibilisi, Georgia nearly 8,000 years ago! Archaeologists found that our Stone Age ancestors grew grapes via hillsides and fermented in decorated clay pots. Old World wines refer to regions located in the birthplace of the craft – all of Europe and parts of the Middle East. Characteristically, wines from this region are lighter bodied, lower in alcohol and heavily regulated by their corresponding governments. Regulation is to keep winemaking techniques as pure and refined as possible. This means regulating sugar additives, rules on filtration and wine fining. Old World wines are generally elegant yet tannic due to their lower ABV and mineral content. Examples of strictly Old World wine include Bordeaux, Champagne, Chianti, Port, & Rhone.

New World winemakers tend to be regarded as mavericks and can be slightly unpredictable. New World regions include North & South America, South Africa, New Zealand, China, and India. Most wines made in these regions stray from traditional wine making processes and are not regulated. No rules, no problem. Some winemakers call it experimental art and will play with fermenting procedures as well as barreling systems to create new essence. As many New World vines are young winemakers benefit from fruity, bold flavors that blossom from baby grapes. Warmer climates also create higher natural sugar content therefore higher ABV and more complex flavors. Some new world varietals include Sauvignon Blanc, Melbec, Syrah, & Viognier.

Now for the weekly Dodici wine feature:

Today I present for you a New World wine from Oregon, Van Duzer estate Pinot Gris. Not only is the bottle stunningly art noir but, the wine itself packs an aromatic punch of jasmine and hints of the tropics. Van Duzer brings to the palate a bright citrus and hints of salty ocean air! ABV 12.9%.

Van Duzer located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon sits in a beautiful knoll backed by the Oregon Coastal Range but, still accessible to the Pacific winds. This micro climate creates their unique, crisp and refreshing taste. A summer evening at Dodici and Van Duzer Pinot Gris should include a Meat & Cheese board without a doubt. The citrusy flavors will compliment any creamy brie or balance any salty salami. Perhaps the Fun Guy or Fresca Due would compliment salty aromatics. Make your reservation tonight!!

Legs & Looks

Oh, She has some legs! Fortunately, I’m not talking about a ZZ Top song. Legs in reference to wine describe the streaks remaining on the glass after a couple solid swirls. The French use a term to liken the leftover particles to ‘tears’ although legs are nothing to cry about. Legs are simply a visual representation of a wine’s alcohol content. Scientifically speaking legs are the perfect example of the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect which, is the evaporation of alcohol creating surface tension on the glass. When you swirl a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine particles (phenolics), sugar and water all meet oxygen. Evaporation occurs quickly, water takes the alcohol particles along and the drinker is left with phenolic compounds and sugar. If you try to shake a sealed bottle of wine the process wont occur. No oxygen should be present in an unopened bottle!

There is a myth that states wine with longer, thicker legs is superior wine. This is just a matter of opinion. Drinkers who enjoy a bigger body wine like Malbecs, oaky Chardonnays, and Ports will revel at utter thickness. Whereas, Pinot Noirs or Pinot Grigios tend to be delicate with a lower ABV percent. Legs really make no reference to the quality of the drink.

This Week’s Wine Feature:

Straight from the Napa Valley region in California, this week’s feature is Prisoner Cabernet Sauvignon from their namesake The Prisoner Wine Company. This female run company selects grape varietals from surrounding Napa vineyards to blend beautiful signature wines.

The Prisoner Cab is blended with Merlot, Syrah, Melbec, and Charbono varietals to bring forward dark fruits and a full tannic mouthfeel. It was aged in both American and French oak so be prepared for a timeless spiciness layered with a rich vanilla!

I recommend splurging on The Prisoner with a Dodici’s Classico or Meat Supreme. This Cab is quite bold and should be paired with a dish that can stand up to The Prisoner’s full mouthfeel. Think savory meat, another fantastic pair would be Grandma’s Meatballs.

Here is a challenge! Next time you reserve a table at Dodici order a bottle of The Prisoner Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% ABV) – check out the legs on this wine! Compare this with a bottle of Blood Root Pinot Noir with an ABV of 13%. Despite both being red varietals you will notice a substantial difference.

See You Next Wednesday!

The Bitter Truth about Phenolics

Phenolics is a cool word to kick around while chatting about wine. Phenolics in reference to wine are chemical compounds derived from grape stems and seeds. Phenolic compounds can also be present after fermentation through oaking or additives. The compounds are responsible for wine’s unique pigments, mouthfeel and overall structure. Without phenolics, we would be simply be enjoying sugar berries (and we save those exclusively for our arugula salad).

High tannin Sangiovese Grapes from Yavapai College Vineyard, AZ

Tannins: are the chemical compound most commonly talked about in reference to wine. Tannins are found in the stems and seeds of red varietals and can be added after fermentation through barreling. Tannins bond to the proteins in your saliva and trigger that dry mouthfeel. Most sommeliers attribute the classic red wine and steak pairing to the tannin and protein relationship. They just make the perfect coupling! Tannins add a complex texture to a wine. A Cabernet described as ‘plush’ or ‘silky’ might have a highly balanced tannic structure where the tannins are present but are not astringent. Whereas, a ‘bitey’ or ‘chewey’ Mourvèdre might be mouth-puckeringly bitter.

Anthocyanin: are responsible for pigmentation. Wine varietals like Malbec, Cabernet, Tempranillo and Mourvèdre are all classically deep red and purple due to their higher acidity and higher concentration of anthocyanins. Softer skinned grapes like Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Grenache still carry the phenolic but in trace amounts. Anthocyanins are present in white grapes but often not enough to change the chemistry.

Today’s wine feature is the El Libre Malbec by Revolution Wine Company from Mendoza, Argentina. It has an ABV of 13.5% and is considered a dry option. After today’s phenolics lesson stop into Dodici and enjoy this wine by the glass or by bottle. The Argentinian Malbec is a stunning inky, purple with some tannic notes but, quite soft compared to most French counterparts. You will notice some notes of chocolate, tobacco and salinity on the nose. Upon first sip you will savor some dark fruits with a balanced herbal finish!

For a Dodici pairing I would opt for the meat and cheese board or the beet salad. The beet salad showcase earthy qualities of both the root vegetable and the wine. The creamy chèvre will balance out any tannins for a velvety finish! Other fab choices would be the Veggie Supreme, the Fun Guy or Sweet Sting.

Don’t forget to make a reservation at Dodici! See you next week.