Archive for the 'WINOS Pick of the Week' Category

WINOS Pick of the Week: Franciscan Cabernet

Franciscan Cab = great Laptop TV

Franciscan Cab = great Laptop TV

It’s ironic that I would have to leave leave California and move to Austin, Texas to discover this legendary Napa Valley Cab. After living in Silicon Valley for 15 years — and making numerous trips to wine country — I am happy this newly minted Texan can recommend Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon.

I actually discovered this wine at my local grocery store, which employs a sommelier who has never lead me astray. When he suggested this wine, he was shocked that this proud (albeit former) Californian had never sipped it before. Embarrassed, I quickly grabbed a few bottles, headed home, and uncorked the goodness.

I didn’t allow time for the wine to breathe (go figure!), and liked it immediately. I particularly enjoyed soft berry flavors, with a hint of plum and chocolate, and the velvety smooth texture.  While this wine is good with meals, I actually prefer a glass of Franciscan Cab with a hunk of Gruyere or Manchego cheese as I partake in some laptop television. It’s a no-fuss wine that tastes more expensive than it costs.

Wine details = Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

Winemaker’s notes = The fruit-laden 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers a luscious bouquet of dark fruit including blackcurrant, black cherry, and blackberry layered over aromas of sweet vanilla and baking spices. Approachable cherry and cocoa notes lead to a wine of intense concentration, with flavors of dried plums and cola laced with hints of tobacco. Generous weight and mouth-filling velvet tannins frame a finish that lingers with flavors of dark cherry and cassis.

For more information, visit the winery web site HERE; purchase the wine HERE, and schedule a tasting HERE.

-LTV Mom

Photo Credit: Franciscan Winery

WINOS Pick of the Week: Elk Cove Pinot Noir

Elk Cove Pinot Noir

Elk Cove Pinot Noir

I don’t consider myself a wine-snob, but I do consider myself a Pinot Noir snob. I think it’s the hardest wine to select on the menu, and I never go “cheap” when ordering a bottle. In my humble opinion, Pinot Noir is an unforgiving wine, and a cheap Pinot usually disappoints. My rule of thumb for selecting the right bottle: look for a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley in Oregon and order it without hesitation.

Last weekend, my husband and I had guests over for dinner and received a bottle of Elk Cove Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir as a hostess gift. I hadn’t heard of this winery before, but was so excited when I saw Willamette Valley on the label. I was hoping the wine would be tastey, and this bottle of red did not disappoint.

Tasting notes say the wine has flavors of blackcurrent, cherry pit and rose petals. This novice (but frequent) wine-drinker says it was delicious. It didn’t have the bitter or “overly earthy” taste of some Pinots, rather it was smooth and flavorful and certainly had that distinct Pinot flavors that I really enjoy.

My first glass of Elk Cove was sans food, and I instantly enjoyed the taste, even without much breathing time. My second glass was accompanied by a grilled filet mignon, and I really liked the combined flavors of the wine and the meat. A wine that can stand alone, and stand up to my medium-rare steak, is a true find.

About Elk Cove: According to the winery Web site, Elk Cove Estate vineyards covers more than 220 acres on four separate sites in the Northern Willamette Valley. Elk Cove Vineyards proudly remains a family owned and operated winery.

Tasting and buying the wine: If you are interested in exploring the wines and visiting the tasting room, information can be found HERE. If you want to simply order some delicious Elk Cove wine, you can click HERE.


– LTV Mom

WINOS Pick of the Week: Champagne Vollereaux

Perfect way to celebrate 40!

Earlier this year, I turned the big 4-0. It was an awesome day — actually month — of celebrating. I felt completely loved (and spoiled!) the entire month of February. I was showered with attention, parties, phone calls, emails and gifts. I’m pretty sure the UPS dude had our address memorized after days of delivering bouquets of flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, jewelry and a very special bottle of champagne.

My sister, who also happens to be one of my best friends, sent me an amazing bottle of champagne that is more than worthy of a “pick of the week.” I don’t know a lot about champagne to offer up a full-blown review, but I can tell you this champagne stands up to some of my favorites including the wonderful Veuve Cliquot and Domaine Carneros. If you are looking for a new champagne to try, I highly recommend Vollereaux champagne, which is from the Champagne region of France. It is absolutely delicious.

The Vollereaux winery has a long and interesting history; in fact, this champagne-making family has been in business for six generations. You can read about their wine-making process HERE.

While explaining the nuances of champagne is not a forte of mine, I can tell you that the champagne was delicious and very easy to drink. It was flavorful, but light. (Is it possible a champagne can taste like citrus and be creamy at the same time… maybe the word is balanced?) I especially liked that it was not too sweet or too bitter; rather, it was flavorful enough to drink without food. Of course, I happened to sip my Vollereaux with some strawberries. And it was divine.

Vollereaux can be found on several online wine shops, including Carlo Lotti and Wine Searcher.

I’m closing with a favorite quote from Pierre Vollereaux, which might be one of my new favorite quotes: “Why drink coffee in the morning when you can drink Champagne!” Suddenly, I am craving a glass of bubbly…

– LTV Mom

WINOS Pick of the Week: Mommy Juice Wines

Mommy Juice Wines

Mommy Juice Wines

Ah, WINOS Pick of the  Week… my favorite blog category! This week we are looking at a brand-new wine for the Libby Family wine cellar: Mommy Juice Wines. And the winery name alone has this mommy fired up!

The people from Mommy Juice Wines contacted me to see if I would like to try their wines. (Um, of course!) Since I am a mommy who loves her vino, I am inspired by the concept that wine can “bring just a bit of peace after the chaos of everyday life as a parent.”

The name behind the wine is obvious to this mama. I am a working mom who is up at 6:30 a.m. and hits the sack around midnight. When I am still awake at 11 p.m. busily doing laundry, filling out school permission slips and writing a press release for a client… I tend to enjoy a glass or two of the juice.

Mommy Juice Wines is the vision of a wine industry veteran; in fact, founder Cheryl Murphy Durzy hails from Clos LaChance Wines. This mommy of two and I share a history of high-tech PR. Hmmm, I am still trucking along in PR and Cheryl makes a living drinking wine… something is wrong with this picture. Anyway, I digress… let’s talk about the wines.

I assembled a  panel of distinguished judges. Kidding, I had friends over for a dinner-party, and we always dine with wine! The eight of us bellied up to the bar and tried the Mommy Juice Wines. Here’s a round-up of reviews from five mommies and three daddies:

Mommy Juice White

Mommy Juice White

Mommy Juice White Wine: This white is 100 percent chardonnay, but is light and crisp almost like a Sauvignon blanc. We tasted light tropical fruits and citrus. The tasting notes indicated a hint of banana, which everyone in the room noticed and enjoyed.  We determined this is an easy drinking wine, good for a lazy summer afternoon while reading a book on the front porch. The wine is an affordable $10.

Mommy Juice Red Wine: This red is a blend of grapes, with the majority being Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a lighter red and even has a sweet flavor. We decided this is a red for people who are ready to bridge from white to red wines. I wouldn’t pair this wine with a heavy meal, such as steak, but it would be good to drink with a Margherita pizza. We also noticed the flavors of the wine intensified as the wine breathed, so I would open the bottle, pour a big glass, and let it open up before drinking. This wine is also an affordable $10.

Mommy Juice Wines (and some pretty awesome schwag!) can be found HERE. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to check out the wines for yourself, the winery is hosting a Mom’s Night Out on May 5 at the Clos LaChance Winery in San Martin, Calif., just south of San Jose, Calif. The address can be found HERE.

You also can find Mommy Juice Wines on Twitter and Facebook.

In the meantime, follow the wine-makers advice and tuck your kids into bed, sit down and have a glass of Mommy Juice—because you deserve it!


– LTV Mom

I received two bottles of wine from Mommy Juice Wines without cost. No blog post was required to receive the wines. These words and opinions are mine and are unedited.

WINOS Pick of the Week: Can Vendrell Penedes

It’s been ages since I wrote a WINOS Pick of the Week, but trust me, the lack of wine-posts is not a reflection of the amount of wine being consumed in my house. I’ve just been busy with work and life. This post is actually two firsts for LTV Mom: 1) I am writing about a Spanish wine, and 2) I am including a vlog from Organic Wine Review (Watch. Laugh. Drink.) The tagline alone makes me love these guys!

Last week I enjoyed a dinner for two (with one of my amazing girlfriends) at Cyprus Bistro and Cafe, a quaint organic restaurant in downtown Campbell, Calif. We were so excited for two hours of uninterrupted chatting and solving all the world’s problems. Little did we know we also would discover a new wine.

I was in the mood for steak, so I ordered a grilled filet mignon with a cherry compote and loads of grilled organic veggies. The restaurant is strictly organic, so I was unfamiliar with most of the wines on the list. I asked the waiter to recommend a wine to pair with the meal, and he suggested a 2006 Can Vendrell from Penedes, Spain. This particular wine is a blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Tempranillo, and is made from organic grapes. The wine is also vegan, which means there are no animal products (such as gelatin) used during the fermentation process.

My friend and I each ordered a glass of the Can Vendrell, and it was love at first sip. We enjoyed the rich cherry flavors, and it paired very well with the beef. It’s got a unique flavor, but it’s not so complex or bold that it’s scary for red-wine newbies. Organic wine distributor Organic Vintners calls this wine “bright and lively.” My friend and I agreed, and we left the restaurant with two bottles each!

If you are in the mood for something different, I recommend you try this hard-to-find gem at your local wine store. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find online, but I found a 2005 bottle for sale at the wine portal Vinquire.


– LTV Mom

WINOS Pick of the Week: Silver Oak 2005

2005 Silver Oak Napa Valley

2005 Silver Oak Napa Valley

It’s time for another Winos Pick of the Week, and this time I am glorifying a 2005 Silver Oak Cab.  Simply put, I don’t think my words can do this wine justice.

If you are not familiar with Silver Oak Cellars, let me share a bit about their history. The winery was founded in 1972 with the mission to perfect the Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, I think they are darn close to perfection.  The bottle claims “finesse and elegance,” and they are on their way.

Out of respect for the winemaker, I will refer to his/her tasting notes and agree that the wine had a wonderful garnet color with hints of dark cherry, cinnamon, cloves, lavender and licorice. While my palate might not be refined enough to note each flavor this wine has to offer, my palate tells me this wine is fantastic. In layperson’s terms: I loved the deep color and the rich, deep flavor.

My husband and I enjoyed this wine with our traditional Sunday night fare: grilled filet mignon and roasted veggies. We previewed the wine with some Gruyere and Dubliner cheeses.  I believe this wine can stand alone without food, but it certainly made my cheese and steak sing.

As much as I love this wine, the marketer in me adores the Silver Oak tagline: Life is a Cabernet.

To find out more about winery tours, tastings, wine parings and more, visit

– LTV Mom

Photo Credit: Silver Oak Web site

WINOS Pick of the Week: Ruston Cuvee Simone

Ruston Cuvee Simone

Ruston Cuvee Simone

Do you know my favorite way to spend a Saturday night? Home-cooking, wonderful friends and really good wine. This is how my family spent last Saturday night, and it was awesome. Three families joined us for dinner, each bringing a dish to share and a bottle of wine to enjoy. (It’s worth noting that each family also brought a daughter who quickly donned dress-up clothes and looked super-cute!) Anyway, the stand-out wine of the night was new for most of us: 2006 Ruston Cuvee Simone. And it was delicious.

About the Wine: Our friends recently visited the Ruston Family Vineyards in Napa Valley and generously shared this bottle with us. This truly is a special wine that was top-pick by everyone at the dinner party. The blend is 26 percent petit verdot, 26 percent syrah, 24 percent cabernet sauvignon and 24 percent merlot. The bottle’s label touts the wine as dry, and I will add that it’s elegant and memorable.  The deep-red wine was flavorful and very smooth. It was the first bottle we opened, even before dinner, and it held it’s own without food. After tasting the wine, I wish we had saved it to pair with grilled filet mignon; so I guess we’ll just have to buy another bottle!

About the Winery: The Ruston Family Vineyards are located just west of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. It’s a family-owned operation; in fact, the family has been farming the land since 1941. They currently grow cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and petit verdot grape vines. The wines are sold in limited distribution, and can be found in A-list restaurants including French Laundry, Craft, Spago, Gramercy Tavern, and Jean-Georges. Visit and Web site or contact the owner ( for more information.

Previous WINOS Pick of the Week selections can be found HERE.

– LTV Mom

Photo Credit:

WINOS Pick of the Week: Elodian Cabernet Sauvignon

Elodian Cabernet Sauvignon

Elodian Cabernet Sauvignon

We love the “BevMo! Five Cent Sale” at our house. If you live hear a BevMo! (which is magical liquor store that is really called Beverages and More), you probably know about the regular sales where you buy one bottle of wine and you get an identical bottle for (you guessed it) a mere five cents.  It’s a great opportunity to try new wines, even get out of your viticultural comfort zone. My hubby hit the sale this weekend and discovered a gold-mine: Elodian 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by the Eddy Family Wines.

About the Wine: This is a special wine, and I think we paid $30 for the bottle (and five-cents for the second bottle… score!) It is a complex cab that tasted like wonderful berries with a hint of an oak flavor. After one sip, I told my husband “go back to the store and buy a case!” The wine is smooth and flavorful and easy to drink. We enjoyed the wine with our favorite accompaniment: filet mignon and roasted asparagus. I am going to try a cheese pairing with my next bottle, er I mean glass.  Read the winemaker’s tasting notes HERE.

In case you are wondering, an elodian is a sea turtle found in the Galapagos Islands, where owner Kerry Eddy’s family lived years ago. The family brought elodians with them when they moved to San Francisco, and sold them with the ship’s cargo (and they “went like hotcakes!”)

About the Eddy Family:  The winery is a family-owned and operated winery located in Calistoga, California. They produce less than 1,500 cases annually. And I can’t wait to discover more of their wonderful wines.

Photo credit:Eddy Family Wines

WINOS pick of the week: 2007 Nemesis

2007 Nemesis

2007 Nemesis

My husband and I recently invited our friends over for a wonderful evening of home-cooked food, a beautifully set table, dozens of lit candles, great conversation and amazing wine. One friend took this opportunity to introduce us to a wine we’d never heard of, but certainly a wine we will enjoy again.

When our friend handed us the bottle of 2007 Nemesis, we couldn’t take our eyes off the bottle. The beautiful blue label is striking against the dark glass, and we immediately realized it’s a wine we had never seen before. It turns out the wine is from Paso Robles, Calif. and is bottled by Linne Calodo Cellars. It’s 82 percent Syrah, 12 percent mourvedre and 6 percent grenache. And (you know this is coming) it’s 100 percent delicious.

Quite honestly, this wine was a pleasant surprise, especially since I rarely choose a bottle of Syrah. It’s hard for me to describe the flavors in this complex wine, but I can tell you it tasted awesome with brie and red meat. I found flavors of deep, rich berries and a smooth, almost sweet flavor. I read one review that said the wine almost tastes like blueberry cheesecake, and in a weird way, I can see that. Regardless, this wine has a unique flavor that is immediately drinkable and just delicious.

Suddenly obsessed with the wine, I checked-out the winemakers, Linne Calodo Cellars. I was so happy to discover the winery is family-owned and a sustainable business, which is “environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially equitable.”

The 2007 Nemesis can be purchased online at Paso Wines or by contacting the winery HERE to check availability.

Photo Credit:

WINOS Pick of the Week: 2006 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s time for a look at the new wines appearing in my wine-fridge.  My husband and I have been wondering the aisles of CostCo looking for new — but not overpriced — wines to try. We recently stumbled across a 2006 Ghost Pines Cabernet. And it’s good.

We had never heard of Ghost Pines before buying a few bottles, but the Web site leads me to believe it’s owned by Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena.  The online retail partner The Barrel Room calls the winemakers “young” and “hot-shot” so I’m not sure who they are.  But their Cab is delicious.

The 2006 Cab is drinkable now, no need to cellar this one. It’s tasty with hints of jam and berries.  It’s not a peppery or earthy Cab, so I have been drinking it without meals (just a little bite of salty cheese.) I think this Cab would be good with a medium rare filet mignon, but I say that about every red wine I enjoy. At the end of the day, we found a wine that will please most red-wine fans and we proudly serve it to our friends. It’s not too overbearing, it’s just smooth and tasty.

The Ghost Pines cab sells for about $23 at The Barrel Room. We found it at CostCo and Safeway for a lesser price of about $16. I see the winery also bottles a Chardonnay and a Merlot, but have not tried them yet.

As much as I enjoy the wine, I absolutely love the tagline: “Sonoma Spirit. Napa Elegance.” (Yes, I love Sonoma for is down-to-Earth goodness.) The label tells me the Cab is 72 percent Napa County, 28 percent Sonoma County. I think it’s 100 percent tasty.

– LTV Mom

Note: Following the new FTC rules, I’m going to confirm the opinions are my own and I bought this wine all by myself! And yes, I am more than 21 years old (just barely).