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60 game Suspension Lifted – Finally Back to Posting!!!

After a lengthy suspension by the Sunday Salud administration, I’m finally back to post again. Good to be back. Thank you to Sara and James for allowing me back. The time has been spent learning from my mistakes and drinking gratuitous amounts of wine – no, there will not be posts from those episodes, save maybe one that we will revisit when we are in a mood for an Italian foret – both in food and vino.

None the less, on to our most recent Sunday Salud. Whether purposely or inadverdently, we have made many efforts to continue to boraden our international wine horizons and have spent time consuming many an italian and french wine as well as dabbling with very rich and full bodied Spanish wines. Spain is where our most recent wine with dinner occurred.


We enjoyed and review a 2010 Kick ass Garnacha from the El Borro winery in the Carinena DO in Spain, within the Aragon region of Spain.  The Aragon region is in Northeast Spain, just south of  France.  The Carinena DO (DO stands for Denominacion de Origen -general identification for Spanish wines).  This is not our first time to review a Garnacha, as we have posted on the Las Rocas winery before.  Garnacha is very previlent in Spain because of the wines ability to grow in hotter climates.  It also commonly grown in France, but under the name Grenache.  

As mentioned Garnacha or Grenache grows well in hot dry climates, which makes it one of the most widely grown grape varieties in the world, hence its prevalence in wine making.  It is used very commonly in many southern Rhone wines in France, and in the famous Austrilian Syrahs.  

With its distinct, heavy aromas and  essence, Garnacha for me carries many similarities to Burgandies, and Syrahs – an inky and bold red wine, some times over the top.

As is the case many times, our wine dictates our meal; however, on this occasion, the menu for dinner was already established – chicken enchilidas, guacamole salad and “Spanish” rice.  With the spice and heaviness of the meal – this big and bold Spanish wine with a spicy undertone worked well!

Consumer:  Elizabeth, Sarah, Roger, Phil, Chris Knight and McKenzie Belefonte

Name:  El Burro Kickass Garnacha

Region:  Carinena wine region within the Aragon region of Spain

Grape Varietal:  Garnacha

Vintage:  2010

Price:  $13.99

Alcohol content:  14.0%

Food pairing:  Chicken Enchiladas covered in melted Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce -with Green Chiles; guacamole salad and Spanish rice  

                                                                            photo (2) 

Color & Appearance:  Dark Red, that’s it, dark red.

Nose/Aroma:  Smells of spice and blue/blackberries

Mouth/Flavors:  Very big, and sweetalmost tart with a dry finish, hints of cherries 

Rating:  7 to maybe 7.5

Impressions:  Really liked, espcially for a discount wine.  Really opened up with the distinct flavor that seems to always be present in granachas, syrahs and some burgandies.  To me, I cannot pin points the taste, but it appears to always be present in these wines.  Its a taste that keeps me from loving these wines, but the wine was still enjoyable.

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Starting the new year off right…

Well, with every new year comes new resolutions.  For us, 2012 was a very exciting and exhausting year.  We spent the first half of the year unpacking into our new house, all-the -while preparing for sweet Magnolia’s arrival…and the second half trying to find our way as new parents and trying to get any amount of sleep possible.  Seriously, who knew you could survive on such little sleep?  And don’t get me started on the amount of germs brought home from daycare that you end up passing back and forth, ugh.

My new year’s resolutions for 2013?

  • Of course, to be a more patient parent.  Yes, I know it’s only been 6 months…but learning to be more patient is always a good thing, right?  Also, I should probably throw “more patient wife” in there also, ha.
  • My second one is a very cliché one, but nonetheless important…to be healthier.  I figured quickly stuffing my face with nachos bell grande and a brownie during Magnolia’s quick nap added onto the low amount of sleep really isn’t helping anyone. (and oh, I’m not admitting that I consume taco bell when my husband is a culinary genius…I plead the 5th.  I’m just saying, if one were to engage in that kind of fast food, it probably wouldn’t be the healthiest for one.)
  • Thirdly, to do everything I can do live every day to its fullest!  Life is just way too short to live any other way.
  • And lastly, I make a commitment, right here and now, to be better at posting Sunday Salud reviews.  We have totally slacked this past year…and I’ll just have to hold myself accountable for finding a different bottle of wine every other week and consuming it…all in the name of you, the reader.  So, thank you reader…for allowing me to have such a fun hobby!  Now, if only we can get Philemon on the Sunday Salud Resolution train…

To start 2013 with a bang, we decided to open up a wine that James bought about a year ago while on a chef’s conference trip.  But, it’s actually a winery that we visited while out in Napa Valley in 2010, Paraduxx.


yes, that would be picture of our friends playing flip-cup in the top right corner…don’t judge.

Paraduxx was created by Duckhorn Wine Company in 1994 and the only winery “devoted to stylish Napa Valley Blends.”  There are only a handful of wineries I would recommend you visiting if you are in Napa Valley, and Paraduxx is definitely one of them!  First off, the setting is just beautiful…and it didn’t hurt that we visited on a gorgeous August California afternoon.  Sheesh, it’s just so pleasant out there.  We were escorted outside where they had an awesome outdoor tasting set up, which made you feel like you were just hanging out in a friend’s backyard.


Philemon telling one of his many karate stories.


Amy & I enjoying the Cali sun and wine…and looking fabulous while doing it.

It didn’t hurt that all of the wines were fantastic!  I didn’t taste a single one I didn’t enjoy.


As you can tell, Paraduxx brings back many fun memories…which is exactly what the taste does for me.  Although I am enjoying it a little differently these days:

2010 Sara:


so young, carefree, fashionable and with a much higher alcohol tolerance.

2013 Sara:


so unshowered, makeup-less, in sweats and a t-shirt with a baby on her hip.

I wouldn’t change my life one bit.  2012 was full of ups and definitely downs…I’m ready for everything 2013 has to bring (which will include a more mobile child and more sleepless nights due to teeth coming in)…but BRING IT ON!

Consumer:  James & Sara

Name:  Paraduxx Hooded Merganser

Region:  Napa Valley

Grape Varietal:  Blend: 72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc

Vintage:  2007

Price:  $48

Alcohol content:  14.5%

Food pairing:  Collard greens with bacon, black eyed peas, fried chicken and jalapeno cornbread…James said it best, “ain’t got nothin’ to do with Paraduxx!”


A good ‘ol southern new year’s tradition.

Color & Appearance:  Ruby with hints of rusty brown, translucent on edges but primarily opaque.

Nose/Aroma:  Like I’ve described all Napa Valley reds, it takes me right back to California!  You can definitely smell the high alcohol content, jammy & plummy and a bit of dried currants.  Very refreshing and summery.

Mouth/Flavors:  James’ first quote, “it’s so effin’ good!”  And well, that about sums it up.  You can definitely taste the Zin, soft, good flavors and smooth.  It’s well rounded with a punch at the end.  My tasting notes say, “makes soul smile J”

Rating:  8.9-James 9-Sara

Impressions:  Obviously, we really like it.  Definitely a great way to start of the new year…as it didn’t disappoint!

Food Recommendations:  Ha, anything as we paired it with our New Year’s meal…and it tasted wonderful!  But would probably go best with anything grilled!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012-Mama’s baaaaaaaaaack!

I’m back wine world…and I’m better than ever!  That’s right, I’m a mama…which makes me one of the wisest creatures on this earth, right?  Going over 9 months without a glass of my beloved vino wasn’t hard at all considering I was growing this amazingly beautiful girlie in my belly:



my greatest achievement thus far, Magnolia Swann!


But I was sad b/c I wasn’t able to enjoy my “last good bottle of wine” before becoming preggers.  You know the one…the bottle of wine you pick out b/c you know you won’t be able to enjoy anything for at least 9 months.  Sadly, I thought of it like picking out what you’d have for your very last meal.  The whole pregnancy thing happened a lot faster than James or I thought it would…(trust me, I’m not complaining at all!) so enjoying that last bottle of vino would be the only thing I wish I could have changed about my pregnancy…well, and all of the morning sickness.  And if those are the only two things I would change…that ain’t too shabby! 

If I was able to pick out a bottle of wine to enjoy pre-pregnancy, it would definitely be this bottle of Cain Five.  Philemon & Amy (being the sweet and thoughtful wine enjoying friends they are) actually bought us this bottle as a “congrats for getting knocked up” present.  Phil gave James strict instructions to hold onto it until I was able to enjoy it with him (thanks, Phil!)…and I think for the first time ever, James listened to Phil.



Mmmm, Cain Five!


I was introduced to Cain Five during our joint trip to Napa Valley two years ago (sheesh, it’s been that long?!).  James set us up a bunch of fancy tastings at different vineyards and this was one of the most memorable.  First of all, our appointment was at 10 o’clock in the morning.  Oh the joys of vacation.  It was a pretty long drive to get there and I remember it being mainly uphill, which paid off for the view of the vineyard (see below):



and sadly, this doesn’t do the view justice!


First off, Cain is a very small winery…and they like to keep it that way.  They only produce a certain number of bottles and once they’re gone…they’re gone.  As their website ( states, you have to have an appointment and it’s best to make it 4-6 weeks in advance.  Thank you, James for being proactive!  When we arrived at our 10 am tasting, the woman who was in charge was quite short and irritated with us.  She told us that we were late, she had a tasting going on at that time and that we would just have to go down to the barrel room so we wouldn’t interrupt everyone else’s tasting experience.  James was confused and was certain he made the appointment for 10am!  Alas, while James was trying to fumble through his emails to find out the exact correspondence, she escorted us to the barrel room.





Obviously, she was trying to “punish” us for being late…but we saw it completely differently!  It was awesome!  We were free to walk around and check out everything at our own accord!  She brought us 4 wine glasses and the leftover bottles of wine from the tasting…she would briefly talk about each one, pour it for us, then go back upstairs to her other guests.  So, we enjoyed the wine and enjoyed the barrel room. 



James, Amy & Philemon getting tipsy at 10am.


cheesy photo opt? Sure! (and yes, this did make it on our Christmas card that year)

When she finished up her other tasting, she came down and chatted with us a bit more about the wine and such.  Then, she decided since we were there…she would give us a quick tour around the grounds and guesthouse.



Cain Winery.

It was at this very moment (above) when James was walking and talking with the lady that she realized he wasn’t the person she thought it was!  GASP!  That’s when she said, “OH! You’re the Executive Chef from Mississippi?!…you’re the one I actually wanted to see!”  Come to find out, she thought he was a liquor store owner from the mid-west that stored her bottles upright instead of horizontal, which she was irritated about.  And obviously, he didn’t even show up for his tasting.  Hmmp.  Anyway, all was cleared and she apologized and apologized for being so rude to us and just “throwing you in the barrel room!”  Little did she know, it was one of the best tastings I’ve ever experienced!



James, moi, Amy & Philemon.


Consumers:  James & Sara



proud papa and chef, James.


more importantly, Sara!

Name:  Cain Five

Region:  Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon 68%, Merlot 16%, Malbec 6%, Petit Verdot 5%, Cabernet Franc 5% (which is obviously where the name Cain FIVE came from…a blend of 5 different grapes they grow)

Vintage:  2007

Price:  $95

Alcohol content:  14.4% (but we guessed it was higher)

Food pairing:  Rosemary salt encrusted bone-in rib eye with apple wood smoked bacon creamed spinach and crème fraiche mashed potatoes



the only thing I can credit myself for in this picture is almost completely devouring that bad boy!

Color & Appearance:  opaque, very dark ruby

Nose/Aroma:  The first thing I said upon sniffing? “Mmm!  That’s good!”  It took us straight back to the tasting room at Cain Five! It was a very powerful smell that included leather, blackberry and small hints of strawberry.

Mouth/Flavors:  Super well rounded, very smooth, definitely tastes like California, cinnamon, spices, dry with hints of cassis and berries  (after it had time to open up, James admitted to me that on first sip he thought it was flat.  He said, “I wasn’t going to say anything b/c I didn’t want to ruin it for you…but I thought it was flat…I’m definitely glad it opened up and got lots better!”)

Rating:  Sara-10!  James-9.5

Impressions:  As you can tell by my rating, this is one of my favorite wines…definitely in my top 3.  Not only does it take me back to an amazing experience in wine country and with amazing friends, it’s an all-around amazing wine!  I would recommend anyone who enjoys a great blend, to try out this wine.  It is pricey, but it’s definitely worth every penny!



even Mags joined in on the fun!

And this fancy dinner ended exactly how the majority of our dinners end…trying to sooth a crying Mags while shoveling food in our mouths. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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September 23, 2012 – ‘Surprise, a Post!’

Surprise…I delinquent post, a post none the less.  Some people might ask, why am I so delinquent.  I might answer back with…with my average looks and below average intellect, its a wonder that I just get out of bed every morning, but I digress. 

As it stands, I actually have a post to share…

As has become a recent Sunday tradition, my Birmingham siblings – Elizabeth, and most recently moved back,  Sarah – have shared a fresh homemade dinner at my house with Amy and my daughter Marissa.  On this occasion, we had both Elizabeth and Sarah as well as Sarah’s brand spankin new Fiance, (don’t know how to put the accent over the ‘e’) Roger.

For our wine and our meal, we decided to continued our education of italian cuisine and the following wine:

What a classy picture!

Consumers – Philemon, Amy, Elizabeth, Sarah and Roger (Marissa drank, but did not eat)

Name:  Borgo Scopeto

Region:  Tuscany, in between Florence and Sienna

Grape Varietal:  Chianti Classico

Vintage:  2007

Price:  $20.99

Alcohol content:  13.5%

Food pairing:  Roasted bone-in pork chops with a tomato aioli sauce; roasted onion, four-cheese palenta and sauted spinach with roasted pine nuts, red peppers and golden raisin.

The recipe for the meal, came from Frank Stitt’s cook book: Bottega Favorita – A Southern Chef’s Love Affair with Italian Food

Best piece of pork I have ever had! Eat your heart out Frank!

Color & Appearance:  Garnet, reddish brown

Nose/Aroma:  Alcohol and sweetness

Mouth/Flavors:  Smooth, mild, and subtle yet a full body taste.  A hint of a spice note that complemented the spice and sweetness of the spinach.

Rating:  7.5

Impressions:  It is certainly not a typical Chianti in that it isnt too bold or dry.  Does have a dry finish.  This is atypical of our limited expierence with Chianti.  Was very pleased with the our joint efforts on the dinner preperation.

Fun facts: Borgo is italian for district or suburb.  In this case, Borgo Scopeto is a true Borgo in that it has its own church, post office, city center and residences.

Fun fact #2: We learned over the weekend, that to truly allow a wine to breath, it must be decanted into a container that allows for more wine surface area to be exposed to air.  Simply opening a bottle and letting it sit will not truly let the wine breath, as only a very small portion of the wine is exposed to air.

That’s it folks, see you in about 6 months with another post!


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If at first…

If at first you don’t succeed, try , try, again.  When this comes to tasting wine you can never really lose out. 

As many of you know, Sara and I are expecting little bundle of joy very shortly.  Due to this, the house has been turned over a few times getting ready and things happen to go by the wayside.  Sadly, Sunday Salud and the review I did a few weeks ago have suffered the consequences of such actions.  So this evening I decided to try again.  Such a rough life is mine…


 Name: Wild Horse

Region: Central Coast, California

Grape: Chardonnay

Price: $17.95

Alcohol by Volume: 13.9%

Vintage: 2009

Food:  Leftover Pasta – Turkey, Chicken, Roasted Peppers, Spinach, and Crimini Mushrooms tossed with Pesto Cream Sauce and Cheesy Tortellini

                Dessert – White Chocolate, Raspberry and Banana Muffins

Color: Straw Colored, pale yellow

Nose: Crisp Apple, Honeysuckle, Hints of Minerals, Peachy, and Oaky

Mouth: Sweet, Peach, Hints of Apricot with Tart Finish, Full

Rating: 9 out of 10

I really enjoyed this wine.  I have had the pinot noir and the cab from these guys and enjoyed them as well.  A nice buttery Chard that works great with pasta, smoked and grilled meats as well as a 95 degree summer day in the south.  Definitely recommend as a drinker, or a great gift for a dinner party.  After reviewing this wine and I quite glad that I lost the original review of a different wine.  Oh well.  Wish us luck as we begin a new chapter in our lives.


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An Argentinian White – A wine for the Spring and Summer

There is nothing better than enjoying the increasing longer afternoon and evening sun.  Spending it on the back deck with a refreshing libation.  In many cases for us, it is sipping on a pleasing glass of red wine.   However, we are growing, and on many a brilliant, sunlit day, it would be better served to enjoy a crisp, refreshing glass or bottle of a crisp, dry white.

With our past discovery of our favorite white (Rombauer Chardonnay) we searched for more.  James had told us before about the Torrontes wines of Argentina, and had described them as brilliant whites of South America,  with a smooth texture and distinctive peach and apricot aromas.

Torrontes is a native white grape of Argentina with three varieties: Torrontes Riojano, Torrontes Sanjuanino, and Torrontes Mendocino. Riojano is the most commonly used variety in Torrontes wines and has garnered the most praise for quality wine.  From what we have read and learned, if the wine has a label only specifing Torrontes and now varietal information, the wine is of the Riojano variety.

It is this Sunday Salud that we review Colome …

Predinner Wine and Treat

Consumer:  Amy and Phil Croft

Name:  Colome

Region:  Valle Calchaqui, Salta, Argentina

Grape Varietal:  Torrontes

Vintage:  2009

Price:  $18.99

Alcohol content:  14.4%

Color & Appearance:  Very pale, champagne

Nose/Aroma:  citrus, effervescent

Mouth/Flavors:  Slightly dry, citrus flavor with shallow, thin start, but bold, crisp, intense finish 

Food pairing: Savored with pears, apples, French Brie and bread

Rating: 8.5

Impressions:  Some what comparable to Savignon Blanc, except sweeter.  Really enjoyed the wine, works well for a late spring/early summer evening.  Would work well by itself or with seafood or with light appetizers.

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Quick Post – Birmingham Wine of the Month

Hey guys, wanted to let you know we have a full post coming on a white Argentian wine we drank recently.  None the less, want to leave a quick note to let you know that has made their wine of the month –  La Follette winery in Sonoma, California. 

If you will recall, we reviewed a Chardonnay from this winery last July based on a recommendations from the wine shop at the Western in Mountain Brook.  It was based on a recommendation as a comparable wine to the Rombauer Chardonnay which we all know and love.  We really liked the La Follette wine as we gave it an 8 out of 10.

Here is a link to their website, just thought it was neat…

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