Blog posts, Cheese, Italian Food, What's In My Glass, wine, Wine and Food Pairing

Thirsty Thursday with Mandy: Let’s Chat $20 Wines!

I recently celebrated my wedding anniversary with this guy:

We have been hitched for 20 years now, through two wars, multiple deployments, lots of geographically separations, tears, laughter, good wine, bad wine, wine gone bad, winning Bronco seasons and losing ones…but he has always had my back and I could not have chosen a better partner in life.

In honor of those 20 years, this month’s #ThirstyThursday segment will focus on wines that cost $20, along with some favorite foods of ours (including a better for us kind of Cheese It made locally, Gagliano’s Italian Sausage from Pueblo, a Wagyu ribeye, fennel pollen salami, black pepper salami, a flamekuchen from The French Kitchen, and of course, Springside cheese.)

So, be sure to tune into 850 KOA on 29 Apr at 2pm Mountain or catch The Mandy Connell Show podcast on iHeart.

Now, let’s introduce the line up!

Here was my notional photo of the wines I selected (all can be found at The Wine Gallery in Colorado Springs)…I have had to substitute my French white so I have chosen TWO wines to replace that little gem.

It wouldn’t be a celebration without some bubbly, so we are kicking this tasting off with a Brut Prosecco made from 100% Glera. It hails from a single vineyard in the foothills of the northern mountain range separating Italy from Austria and Switzerland and is produced by two female wine makers who seek to create dry, mineral happy sparkling wine. Using the Charmant or Tank method, this wine ferments in steel tanks before being bottled. This allows the wine to present with a crsip and clean profile on the pallet, with lovely salinity on the finish. Prosecco is a great first wine when waking up the taste buds for a wine tasting and great alternative for folks who maybe find the biscuity or yeasty notes of Champagne a little much. Having a brunch to celebrate mom in a week and a half (yep, Mother’s Day is 9 May!)? Enjoy this wine solo or paired with quiche, waffles, or breakfast in bed. It would certainly make my day special!

In place of my French white, I have two offerings: one from Napa and one from Italy.

Staying in Italy, we will head south from the northern mountains down to the Veneto where we will sip on the traditional version of Soave from Pra’. Made from Garganega (pronounced gar-ga-naaay-guh), this delicate white wine in appearance jumps out of the glass with beautiful bouquet scents, reminding me of warm summer nights where honeysuckle and jasmine float along the breeze, with hints of ripe peaches and other stone fruit tickling your nose. This is another great first wine when beginning a tasting as it has popping acidity and medium balanced body…perfect for a first course or paired with traditional Italian cheeses (Grana Padano would be my go to.)

Up next is an Albarino from Peter Franus in Napa. Peter, and his wife, Deanne, seek to make wines that they enjoy drinking (and have quite the romantic story to tell themselves!) and share their love of approachable yet complex wines with their guests and customers. His Albarino, a varietal not often found in Napa Valley, stays true to its Spanish heritage, offering bright acidity with notes of green grass on the nose, and delicate orange blossom on the nose and pallet. This wine is best enjoyed on a front porch swing after a day’s work in the garden or yard or perhaps while grilling some shrimp or chicken in the back yard…just however you enjoy it, make sure it is outside on a beautiful day!

Seems I am obsessed with Italy…well, I did marry an Italian American! We head back to one of my favorite regions in Italy for good quality yet really affordable wines: Abruzzo. If you think of Italy as the boot, Abruzzo is located on the back calf, right up against the Adriatic ocean. It is hot and dry there so that means the vines work hard to produce their fruit. In the case of today’s rosé, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Cerasuolo means cherry, which perfectly describes this wine’s color!), that is also the case. This is the rosé of the most common grape in Abruzzo, Montepulciano, While this wine looks like a rosé, it actually has some lovely tannic structure so you could enjoy this with heavier proteins. In honor of my husband’s Italian heritage, we’ll be pairing this with homemade grilled Italian sausage from Gagliano’s Italian Market in Pueblo.

We will head over to Germany for a favorite version of Pinot, the Hex Vom Dasenstein Witch Spätburgunder. Derived from how Pinot develops, the name, Spätburgunder, literally means “late Pinot.” Due to the cooler climate and shorter growing season, Germany is often more associated with sweeter white wines, but Spätburgunder is a personal favorite. First of all, it is just fun to say! Second, it is a gorgeous wine that holds up well to typical German food (my favorite meal is Jager Schnitzel.) Fun note about this particular wine…it is named after a witch who lived in a cave in the middle of the vineyard according to local legends. This vineyard is found in Baden, where some of the better Spätburgunder is produced (the best region according to many is Ahr.)

We will wrap up our tasting with a comparison taste (and one wine clocking in a $22…I am not telling Mandy and will see if she can guess.) Our final two reds are Clarets, which are basically Bordeaux style blends. Why are they called Clarets (pronounced “clair-ette”)? Well, after William the Bastard conquered England, the relationship between the wine makers of Bordeaux and the wine drinkers of England began to strengthen. Claret was used to describe the lighter wines the Bordeaux produced at the time. Once Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry II, trade agreements were made to strengthen the English’s consumption of Bordeaux wines (after they strengthened their wines by adding bigger varietals such as Malbec from Cahors.) Once the union between France and England dissolved into centuries of war and disdain, the English continued to refer to wines from Bordeaux as Clarets. Our first Claret from Donati in the Central Coast of California is a Blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. It has been awarded 91 points by James Suckling.

Our second Claret is The Pairing, 2015. 50% Cab Sav, 20% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc, and 10% Petite Verdot, this blend has been awarded 88 points and 92 points from wine critics. If you are familiar with Jonata, you would enjoy this wine at a much lower price.

Let’s see which one Mandy likes best! We will pair this with our ribeye of wagyu.

Guess I better wear some stretchy yoga pants tomorrow!

Thanks again for tuning in and listening. If you have any questions, please feel free to connect here or connect with me via social media.

Cheers and namaste,


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